Thursday, January 7, 2010

Chapter 8: Physical Development (Adolescence)

1 comment:

  1. Puberty (and its programmers)

    1) offers a concrete example of a MALE puberty ritual in an Amazonian hunter gatherer society.

    2) summarizes interesting new data suggesting that there are marked differences in the rate of pubertal change among girls.

    3) compelling new finding: While being overweight (and, interestingly, rapid weight gain during the first nine months of life) clearly predicts early menarche, there is NO evidence that overweight boys reach puberty earlier.... and

    equally puzzling-- although multiple studies now implicate family stress (insecure attachments; power assertive discipline etc) in early puberty, this finding also ONLY applies to girls.

    Conclusion: seems like the female puberty timer is uniquely sensitive to childhood environmental emotional and physical cues.

    Early maturation (again for girls)

    -- offers a more nuanced take on the standard developmental science finding that reaching puberty early is a risk factor for teenage pregnancy and emotional problems in girls . As it turns out, this relationship only applies when there are other risk factors in a child's life.

    Moreover, as it also turns out, we need to qualify the blanket finding that moving to middle school is a bad idea during the pubertal years. One study exploring 36 rural school systems found that bullying was less frequent and 6th graders reported a more supportive classroom environment when they moved to middle school!

    Body image issues-

    1) covers new research relating to "the thin ideal"-- when girls internalize this message; who is most vulnerable; cultural and ethnic differences etc.

    2) clearly spells out the DSM criteria for Bulima and Anorexia, as well as discussing symptoms such as body dysmorphia.

    3) discusses new research exploring the emotional correlates of eating disorders-- shame, insecure attachments, extremely low self esteem- and spells out the pathway by which these feelings may get channeled into an obsession with one's weight.

    4) explores how teens with a positive body image think... and also speculates that eating disorders may become less of an issue now that ample sized female shapes are now definitely more in vogue (think, Snooky and the Kardasians)!


    1) offers updated data on teenage sexual practices and the transition to intercourse (also includes an unflattering new figure relating to teenage pregnancy rates in the U.S compared to those in Sweden and Canada)

    2) surveys new research suggesting we can make precise statistical predictions of a teen's intercourse odds by looking at the practices of that child's group.

    3) explores a fascinating new qualitative study of teens suggesting that BOTH boys and girls want sex in a committed relationship (accompanied by great quotations from guys here!)