At the end of the third term last year, we asked you to think about that thing that happens to everybody: PUBERTY!
At one level, puberty is a biological process, guided by growth hormones, that sooner or later comes to everyone: both boys and girls grow pubic hair; girls menstruate and their breasts develop, while boys produce sperm and their penises get bigger. But that's only half the story, because puberty is just as much a time of really important psychological change and growth. Before puberty, boys and girls are thought of as children, but then they gradually become adolescents, soon to be adults. This is often a difficult time, because there can be a lot of stress involved. Suddenly, you are expected to behave like a "grownup" and be responsible, just while you're starting to experience all those new sexual feelings and desires. And then there's peer pressure, which can be incredibly powerful. As shown in the text "Prove to us you are a man", friends can start influencing you to do things you may not really be ready for. Adolescents are often impatient to be accepted by society as adults, and so they have sex as soon as possible, because it's an "adult" thing to do, even if deep-down they know it's not yet a good idea for them.
[...] While reading your contributions, I noticed that many girls wrote that the first time they menstruated, they had no idea what was happening, and were very frightened. Likewise, many boys wrote that the first time they had wet dreams, they were surprised, afraid and embarrassed. While puberty is supposed to be part of the Life-skills and Biology curricula, it seems obvious that many teachers do not talk about it. Many parents also don't talk about it with their children. As a result, those changes and new experiences are often frightening. I think this is very wrong. The changes are natural and there are no reasons why children should not be prepared to face them. I hope and trust that this issue of OYO will give you information and that in turn you will share this information with your younger brothers and sisters in order to help them go through puberty in an open, healthy way.