“When You’re a Baby You Don’t Have Puberty”: Understanding of Puberty and Human Reproduction in Late Childhood and Early Adolescence

Lisa B. Hurwitz*, Alexis R. Lauricella, Brianna Hightower, Iris Sroka, Teresa K. Woodruff, Ellen Wartella

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Basic knowledge of human reproduction can help youth prepare for puberty and make later classes focused on advanced reproductive health topics manageable. With the intention of potentially informing the creation of learning materials, we conducted a needs assessment among children ages 7 to 12 in our suburban Chicago community to ascertain their current understanding of, and beliefs and misconceptions about, human reproduction, and to determine their needs for additional reproductive health education. We held qualitative focus group interviews with local children. Participants primarily reported learning about these topics from their parents prior to receiving school-based education in fifth grade. Their level of understanding was relatively low. They had little knowledge of internal sexual organs, expressed a range of beliefs about conception ranging from inaccurate to accurate but incomplete, and voiced concerns about transitioning into adolescence. This suggests a need for additional resources that provide comprehensible descriptions of reproductive health processes and mitigate puberty-related concerns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)925-947
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Early Adolescence
Volume37
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017

Keywords

  • conception
  • menstruation
  • puberty
  • reproduction
  • reproductive anatomy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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