By Mary Flor F. De Lima
Elementary School Head Teacher I
Nacacale Elementary School
You have them. We have them in school. And you may even have one of them in your family. The in-between stage of still being a child and an assumed state of being grown up. But not yet so. They are simply called the pubescent ones.
Clinical psychologists are the expert in this stage of life called puberty. The average age for girls to begin puberty is 11 and for boys is 12 though it may vary for everyone but is considered normal to begin at ages 8 to 14.
Again, psychologists differ in their classification. While puberty is considered as one stage others classify puberty as the beginning stage of adolescence. Just what is pubescence? What are the characteristics of a male pubescent and a female counterpart?
Oxford dictionary defines pubescence as the time when puberty begins. Although the age for puberty for males and females vary, there are common characteristics with them. In the boys the changes that will happen during puberty are the enlargement of the testicles as the first puberty change, penis enlargement, pubic hair appears, wet dream or nocturnal emissions occur, hair under the arms and on the face, voice change and acne. In the girls, the major physical changes as they go through puberty are breast development, body hair, vaginal discharge, periods, increase in height, wider hips, and gaining weight. Other changes may be associated with these characteristics like painful menstruation associated with the first period and the monthly periods.
While medical problems associated with these characteristics are better attended and subjected to medial experts, we as parents and educators should attend to their daily behaviors at home, in school and with their social life.
In the Philippines there is the rite of passage from a child to man so to speak when young pubescent boys undergo circumcision during the age of 12 or 13. While for the girls it is just marked by the attention given to her by the mother or an older female sibling when she has her first menstruation to teach her on proper care and feminine hygiene.
In other cultural societies and religious community settings, the puberty stage is given attention. In Israel, the boys undergo the so-called bar mitzvah, when a young boy of 12 starts to participate in church or synagogue activities like reading the Torah on the Sabbath. The girls have their own bat mitzvah, when she reads also the Torah for the first time among girls and women because the male and female attendees in the synagogue or church are separate. Both boys and girls are then taught plenty of God’s laws and moral and spiritual values. Why is this so?
It is because this stage marks the beginning of their accountability of any misdeeds and are therefor liable to the court of the land. It is expected that they should be an upright citizen of their government and of the government of God. This observance is ingrained within their religion which is Judaism, their society and their government.
Taking this view has a preventive measure so that a pubescent and an early adolescent must be untarnished and live a moral and spiritual lives.
And relating the above views on our own Philippine culture and society, this means our own Filipino children of pubescence or adolescence stages of development shall also live a moral and spiritual life and with wholesome well-being so that they shall not become a victim of molesters, manipulators or exploiters.
What is the critical role of the parents as adults responsible for these pubescents or young adolescents? They (the parents) should be the first teachers to teach their children the moral and spiritual aspects, the church to continue on the teachings of the laws of God or Heaven, and the school / teachers as second parents to teach the right values.
The pubescent or young adolescents must have or be provided with a caring, nurturing and protective environment. This is because they are not yet fully developed biologically in terms of brain structure which is also a reason for immediate response to any stimuli including suggestions, dangerous drugs and exploitive means.
This makes pubescence a critical stage of development. Any error or false action has repercussions that are dangerous to the young adults.
Let us be vigilant in watching over our pubescents and young adults because they are our future.
Have you not noticed that pubescent and young adults tend to take care of themselves? For instance, they purchased from shoppe their own toiletries, perfumes, clothes, etc. They are more or less capable of taking care of themselves by asserting that they are capable of wise choice along the online items. In this manner, supervising adults or parents should have to monitor their children’s activities without being too nosy because these young people want to have their own privacy.
In school or at home in this time of pandemic, they still are to be sheltered, protected and provided. However, they are to be trained in doing home responsibility as member of the family like taking part in household chores, family business or occupation and other worthwhile family activities. Should they work outside their respective homes, it is advisable that they must be in company of the parents or at least one of the parents.
The home and community environment have a crucial role-they influence the behaviors of the pubescents, their choices and decisions. Interventions are necessary to remove the toxic effects or adverse condition within the immediate environment. Through a continuing parents’ family educational program, the negative impact of the stressful environment can be managed and thus altered for the better. An adult educator and leader are of great influence.
Let us care for our pubescents in school, at home and in our own community because they are in the moment of their lives that they need understanding so that they wil understand their queries about their own challenges and struggles as persons in the transition stage of children to adults.