Are you afraid of this word? Don’t be.
A girl undergoes several changes throughout her life. Some of these might seem confusing and even scary at first, hence the need for girls to truly understand what’s going on.
“Adolescence is a period between 10 and 19 years of age,” said Lovely, a 15-year-old advocate who teaches adolescent health among girls in her community.
“Adolescence includes physical, cognitive, behavioral, and psychosocial changes,” Lovely explained.
Puberty is experienced during adolescence. This refers to the physical and sexual maturation of girls and boys.
Changes in my body
“We need to take good care of ourselves,” said Lovely. “We need to know what’s happening in our bodies.”
Puberty among girls happens between ages 10 to 15, but it could be different for each girl – some may experience changes earlier, while others a bit later.
During puberty, a girl undergoes endocrine and hormonal changes which result to notable physical changes such as:
- onset of “menarche” or the first menstruation
- widening of hips
- narrowing of waist
- development of breasts
- growth of more hair (i.e., pubic area, underarms, legs)
- increase in height
- changes in body shape
The rate of such changes may vary according to the girl’s health, nutrition, and genetics.
It’s important for parents to be able to properly explain the processes, reasons, and meanings behind these changes. Parents can learn alongside their daughters.
For example, a girl must know what it means to have menstruation.
Keeping children in the dark about menstrual, adolescent, and reproductive health can only cause problems. It’s better to protect and empower children through education. (WATCH: Should teens be aware of HIV and AIDS?)
Aside from teaching her fellow teens about adolescence, Lovely also trains them on how to prevent abuse.
“Adolescents have to be cautious of potential abuse around them,” Lovely advised. “They have to be careful with that. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no.’”
Starting at an early age, Lovely stressed, children should already learn the concept of consent.
Lovely is among the teens Save the Children trains on adolescent health. She then shares what she learns with girls and boys in her community.
She emphasized the need to remove the stigma against calling body parts by their name. “We should be able to say vagina, breast, penis when teaching the youth about their bodies; otherwise, they might become vulnerable to abuse or misinformation.”
The young advocate says that children should learn about their rights, and should know how to protect themselves from abuse.
“I think the reason why there are many cases of teenage pregnancy is because some teens are not guided properly by their parents,” said Lovely. “They don’t receive support.” (WATCH: This young man is trying to prevent teenage pregnancies)
"As a result, some rebel against their parents,” she continued. “And in some cases, children are abused by their own parents.”
Boys, said Lovely, should of course be equally educated on adolescent and reproductive health. This way, they will learn how to respect girls.
Empower girls through education. Together, let's save the children!
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