What The Hell Happened To Puberty?

By Paige Stewart

I was sitting in a coffee shop, thinking about a topic to write another article on as it has been a while. I sat back in my chair, took a deep breath and took in my surroundings, it was then when I overheard a very concerned woman talking to her friend. She was saying that she hopes her daughter doesn’t start her period any time soon like another girl in her class had. When the woman’s friend asked how old the classmate was, she responded, “she’s 9 years old”. 

This peaked my curiosity, I had to find out why it seemed girls were starting their periods younger and younger. After doing some research, I found that it was mostly due to the influence of the hormones in the food we feed ourselves. Think about it: the world is too overpopulated and the demand for food has increased with such furiousness that farmers are no longer able to produce at a natural pace, therefore leading to the use of hormones and genetically modified products. 

Take a cow for example. She is born, taken away from her mother (the dairy industry can be read about in my other article Not Your Mother, Not Your Milk) and pumped full of hormones until she is able to become pregnant and produce milk. The hormones are filtered through into her milk, we buy the milk, then our children consume it. The cow, once she’s reached her allowed life expectancy, is then slaughtered and sent to be packaged for meat. We buy the hormone rich meat and feed it to the children. The viscous cycle of this issue could go something like this: hormones fed to children, puberty at younger ages without early sex education, an increase in teen pregnancies, more people brought into the world, increased demand in food, increased hormones in food, then fed to the children again, and so on. 

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The surplus of hormones fed to our children inherently ensures that they go through puberty sooner than they would have without these extra hormones. This leads to younger children having feelings and experiences earlier in their lives. It is basically as though these younger children are experiencing puberty up to five years earlier than they were perhaps ready to. While having your period at a young age might not be the worst thing that can happen, having your body start developing and growing into more of a ‘womanly figure’ at age 9 is quite overwhelming. I remember running around the school in third grade with my best friend at the time and we would kiss each other in the bathrooms, neither of us had even started going through puberty yet, it was simply because of what we’d seen on TV. 

Children going through puberty younger then leads to the need for schools to introduce sex education in younger grades which may prove to be controversial to some people. When I was 11 years old we had a “girls only” talk where we discussed everything to do with menstruation, this talk didn’t help me as I and a few of my friends had already started their periods 1, maybe 2 years prior to this. 

Sex education is vital to both boys and girls. Puberty for boys is equally as vital and education even more so. I’ve mentioned in an article before that we tell our children to “never take no for an answer” in order to motivate them to succeed, but imagine a situation in which a young boy who’s been told this, has these sudden urges he’s never experienced before, with no knowledge on how to control them or no one to talk to as he feels what he’s going through is strange and he’s the only one.