What’s the Deal with Puberty? Sex Education for Children in Norway… and the World. By Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

Norway’s State funded educational TV series “Newton”, presents sex, sexuality and puberty for young children.  The series, which has been described as “graphic”, because we see male and female sexual parts up close, as well as being told details about various sexual practices, was banned from Facebook for a while and even called “disgusting” by some who felt it was “too informative” and would be damaging to children watching it.  Meanwhile views of the series have continued to increase, particularly after it came with English subtitles from 2015.

Sex education for prepubescent children (or even for preteens and teens) has long been hotly debated, with those arguing against it traditionally saying kids are “not ready” for such information and that “too much knowledge too soon” will inevitably result in increased rates of teen sexual activity and accompanying problems such as STDs, early pregnancy as well as emotional distress/ depression when early sexual relationships fail… all  issues which have life long negative impacts.

Studies show, however, that the opposite appears to be true.  As a general rule, having  more (and accurate) sexual knowledge seems to mean children and young people are a) less likely to become sexually active at younger ages and   b) when they do become sexually active, are more likely to make responsible (informed) choices.

In 2008, the Washington Post reported on a University of Washington study which found that teenagers who received comprehensive sex education were 60% less likely to get pregnant than someone who received abstinence-only education.  Numbers of sexual partners among those who were sexually active were also significantly lower.  The latter is important, not only because it indicates a lesser risk of STDs, but also because it has been shown that greater numbers of sexual partners, particularly during the teenage years, negatively effects mental well being, and can decrease the ability to maintain healthy relationships in adulthood.  Education on matters of sexuality has also been found to work hand in hand with dramatically lowering a child’s vulnerability to becoming a victim of sexual abuse (sexual abuse prevention education).

Sexual health is an essential part of good overall health and well-being. Sexuality is a part of human life and human development. Good sexual health implies not only the absence of disease, but the ability to understand and weigh the risks, responsibilities, outcomes, and impacts of sexual actions, to be knowledgeable of and comfortable with one’s body, and to be free from exploitation and coercion. Whereas good sexual health is significant across the life span, it is critical in adolescent years. health. http://www.naswdc.org/practice/adolescent_health/ah0202.asp

Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) leads to improved sexual and reproductive health, resulting in the reduction of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV, and unintended pregnancy. It not only promotes gender equality and equitable social norms, but has a positive impact on safer sexual behaviours, delaying sexual debut and increasing condom use. (United Nations Global Review, 2015).

http://www.un.org/youthenvoy/2016/03/comprehensive-sexuality-education/

Scandinavia has long been admired by American liberals and sex education advocates who cite comparable rates of adolescent sexuality, yet lower rates of teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and abortion in Scandinavia.

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14681810601134702

Returning, then, to Scandinavia (and specifically Norway), how do markers of risky sexual behaviour in young people compare with those of other countries?  Rather than writing about these differences, some diagrams of statistics (sources cited) appear below.

Teenage pregnancy…

Sexually transmitted diseases…

Personally, having watched Norway’s State funded educational TV series “Newton”, I felt the episodes were well presented and in good taste.  For some of us seeing naked male and female anatomy, as the show’s host, Line Jansrud removes towels from real human bodies may be a little shocking, but isn’t that the problem?  Don’t we need to get over ourselves and present sex and our bodies as what they are, a very natural part of our humanity and one which our children can only benefit from being accurately informed about?

Line Jansrud speaking during one of the eight episodes in the “Newton” series (now with English subtitles)

Topics in the Norwegian TV series of eight episodes (in English) are as follows…

Episode 1 – How does puberty start?

Episode 2 – Breasts

Episode 3 – Penis

Episode 4 – Hair on your body

Episode 5 – Growth and Voice change

Episode 6 – Vagina and menstruation

Episode 7 – Zitz and sweat

Episode 8 – What’s the deal with puberty?

 

Fear and Anxiety – An Age by Age Guide to Common Fears, The Reasons for Each and How to Manage Them, by Karen Young

Fear-and-Anxiety-An-Age-by-Age-Guide-to-Fears-Why-and-What-to-Do

It is very normal for all children to have specific fears at some point in their childhood. Even the bravest of hearts beat right up against their edges sometimes. As your child learns more about the world, some things will become more confusing and frightening. This is nothing at all to worry about and these fears will usually disappear on their own as your child grows and expands his or her experience.

In the meantime, as the parent who is often called on to ease the worried mind of your small person, it can be helpful to know that most children at certain ages will become scared of particular things.

When is fear or anxiety a problem?

Fear is a very normal part of growing up. It is a sign that your child is starting to understand the world and the way it works, and that they are trying to make sense of what it means for them. With time and experience, they will come to figure out for themselves that the things that seem scary aren’t so scary after all. Over time, they will also realise that they have an incredible capacity to cope.

Fears can certainly cause a lot of cause distress, not only for the kids and teens who have the fears, but also for the people who care about them. It’s important to remember that fears at certain ages are completely appropriate and in no way are a sign of abnormality.

The truth is, there really is no such thing as an abnormal fear, but some kids and teens will have fears that are more intense and intrusive. Even fears that seem quite odd at first, will make sense in some way.

For example, a child who does not want to be separated from you is likely to be thinking the same thing we all think about the people we love – what if something happens to you while you are away from them? A child who is scared of balloons would have probably experienced that jarring, terrifying panic that comes with the boom. It’s an awful feeling. Although we know it passes within moments, for a child who is still getting used to the world, the threat of that panicked feeling can be overwhelming. It can be enough to teach them that balloons pretend to be fun, but they’ll turn fierce without warning and the first thing you’ll know is the boom. #not-fun-you-guys

Worry becomes a problem when it causes a problem. If it’s a problem for your child or teen, then it’s a problem. When the fear seems to direct most of your child’s behaviour or the day to day life of the family (sleep, family outings, routines, going to school, friendships), it’s likely the fear has become too pushy and it’s time to pull things back.

So how do we get rid of the fear?

If you have a child with anxiety, they may be more prone to developing certain fears. Again, this is nothing at all to worry about. Kids with anxiety will mostly likely always be sensitive kids with beautiful deep minds and big open hearts. They will think and feel deeply, which is a wonderful thing to have. We don’t want to change that. What we want to do is stop their deep-thinking minds and their open hearts from holding them back.

The idea then, isn’t to get rid of all fears completely, but to make them manageable. As the adult in their lives who loves them, you are in a perfect position to help them to gently interact with whatever they are scared of. Eventually, this familiarity will take the steam out of the fear.

First of all though, it can be helpful for you and your child to know that other children just like them are going through exactly the same experience.

An age by age guide to fears.

When you are looking through the list, look around your child’s age group as well. Humans are beautifully complicated beings and human nature doesn’t tend to stay inside the lines. The list is a guide to common fears during childhood and the general age at which they might appear. There are no rules though and they might appear earlier or later.

Infants and toddlers (0-2)

•   Loud noises and anything that might overload their senses (storms, the vacuum cleaner, blender, hair dryer, balloons bursting, sirens, the bath draining, abrupt movement, being put down too quickly).

Here’s why: When babies are born, their nervous systems are the baby versions. When there is too much information coming to them through their senses, such as a loud noise or being put down too quickly (which might make them feel like they’re falling), it’s too much for their nervous systems to handle.

 

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

heysigmund.com/age-by-age-guide-to-fears/

A Tribute to Judy Blume (via the blog “A Mighty Girl”): Free Expression and the Freedom to Read, for Kids as well as for Adults!

Judy

For over forty years, author Judy Blume has stood up for free expression and the freedom to read. The beloved author of many Mighty Girl favorites such as “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret”, “Deenie”, and “Tiger Eyes,” the 78-year-old Blume has been writing children’s and young adult fiction for decades. But what her many young fans rarely realize is that her frank discussion of topics like religion, puberty, and sexuality in these books — the same honesty that makes them so appealing to young readers — has made her one of the most frequently challenged children’s authors.

Even as a relatively new author, though, instead of bowing to the criticisms, Blume persisted in writing openly and honestly about issues affecting young people — and speaking up for authors, teachers, librarians, and others who face disapproval, insults, and even the loss of jobs and careers because they refuse to remove books from the hands of young readers. As such, she has become a champion for children’s freedom to read — and authors’ freedom to write — about topics that some find controversial.

In our blog tribute to Judy Blume, we honor her both as an author of many beloved Mighty Girl books and as a determined and forceful voice against censorship and book banning. In a time when Blume’s books still face frequent challenges, her experiences combating censorship — and her powerful words about the value of making complex and daring books accessible to kids — are more important than ever.

To read our blog post, “Protecting ‘The Books That Will Never Be Written'”: Judy Blume’s Fight Against Censorship,” visit http://www.amightygirl.com/blog/?p=7425

To learn more about Mighty Girl books that have been challenged or banned — including the reasons behind the bans — check out our blog post “Dangerous Words: Challenged and Banned Mighty Girl Books” at http://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=4611

For a wide selection of Judy Blume’s much beloved young adult novels, visit our “Judy Blume Collection” at http://bit.ly/1vmwFMN

And, to introduce children to the woman behind these famous books, check out the recently released biography for ages 7 to 10, “Judy Blume: Are You There, Reader? It’s Me, Judy!” at http://www.amightygirl.com/broke-the-rules-judy-blume

Ed Note J Blume

 

They’ll Do What? The What and the Why of the Changes that Come With Adolescence, by Karen Young

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The changes we see in our kids when they hit adolescence can leave many of us with a sense of whiplash. The tiny adorable humans who wanted to us to read to them, sing to them, cuddle them, kiss them goodbye at parties, at some point become … different. Loved, wonderful, funny, creative – but different, in a way that’s not so tiny or adorable. And don’t even joke about kissing them goodbye at parties. Or anywhere else where there might be people.

We blame raging hormones, lack of sleep, friends, ‘that show’ they’ve been watching, social media. Then there are the days – plenty of them – that we blame ourselves, wondering what we did or didn’t do that could possibly explain what’s going on.

What’s going on is adolescence. It’s as simple and as complicated as that. The changes they are going through are all being driven by a brain that is undergoing a massive renovation. It has to be this way to get them ready to be healthy, strong, productive, happy adults.

If you can understand what is happening in their brains, what they are doing will make sense. You’ll still find yourself baffled, angry, bewildered, sad – all of those things – but hopefully less than you would otherwise. You’re building humans, great ones, and as with anything that is worth the effort, it won’t always run to schedule, it definitely won’t look the way you thought it would, and some days – probably plenty – it will be a red hot mess.

In the same way they will wobble and fall when they are little people learning to walk and master their physical selves, they will also wobble and fall as their brains take develop into the adult forms. Keeping this in mind will help things run smoother.

The Changes that Every Adolescent Will go Through

  1. Adolescence – the apprenticeship for adulthood.

    The changes in the brain during adolescence are dramatic. They have to be – the transition from childhood to adulthood wouldn’t happen without some serious neural remodelling. During adolescence, they will be driven to experiment with the world and their place in it, try new things (important for their new adult roles), let go of the family and seek out peers, form strong social connections and think independently. Every one of these changes is there to fulfil an important developmental role and bridge the vast gap they will travel between childhood and adulthood. The results will be worth it but like any renovation, things will get messy for a while.

(To read more of this article, follow the link below…)

http://www.heysigmund.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-adolescent-brai/