Boys Catching Up To Girls?


boys and girls maturing.png

(image courtesy of Google)


While guys might not want to hear it, it has been documented that girls mature faster than boys. Recently however, a study published by "Pediatrics" and detailed in a Fox News report, explained the possibility that the maturity rate is happening earlier in boys. The new study suggests that, "the opposite sex may be catching up."


Researchers have discovered signs of puberty in American boys up to two years earlier than past reports and even puberty hitting Hispanics boys at the average age of ten. The study is relatively new so far and researchers have not been able to figure out as to why this maturity/puberty level seems to be rising at a quicker rate. The theories that have been suggested are,"higher levels of obesity to inactivity to chemicals in food and water, all which might interfere with normal hormone production."


Overall, researchers believe that there have not been enough studies done to prove the theories or have a cause for concern. Dr. William Adelman, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' committee on adolescence stated, "If it's true that boys are starting puberty younger, it's not clear that means anything negative or has any implications for long-term."


This study that was conducted involved boys ages 6-16. These boys were asked by their doctors to participate in regular checkups that took place from 2005-2010. Doctors would measure testes and see if there was enlargements. As described in the article, "enlargement of testes is usually the earliest sign of puberty in boys." The study is not quiet in mentioning that their study is flawed in respects to the fact that testes were measured only once and doctors were not randomly recruited. Instead, they volunteered to participate." The way these researchers went about the study could lead to flawed results.


I believe that this study's validity can be put into question just because they did not take many factors into figuring out if a boy's puberty level was taking effect quicker. As this article describes, more studies need to be done with larger groups of people, this study focusing primarily on the puberty growth in Hispanic males. Also, I think there would need to be other factors that would need to be taken into consideration besides ethnicity, such as the environments that the boys live in and how they are brought up. We have discussed in class a little bit about the nature vs. nurture debate, and I think for this study specifically, both could help lead to a slower, or faster maturity.


What do you guys have to say on the issue of boys possibly maturing at faster rates? Have you noticed it with younger brothers or friends? I still think a lot more research would need to be done, but I wouldn't be surprised if boys are maturing faster.


This is a very interesting point. I have noticed that is seemed as if the younger and younger kids have grown up faster and faster. You can also see this in the way the kids act. It seems like I always find myself saying "Wow I did not act like that when I was that age". To me this maturity has come from media today. The psychological maturity I think has been way ahead of the physical maturity, but that may change with this new study. Kids always look up to the older generation, and when they see kids in high school doing drugs and partying, they want to do that, and it trickles down to elementary school. Back when I was in elementary school girls still had cooties, but now the boys seem more interested in having girlfriends. This physical maturity may be a cause to this as well since hormones will now develop faster. Its a question of the chicken or the egg? Did the physical change happen to cause the psychological, or the other way around/

Although I am not a boy I will still give my opinion. I agree with you that I do not buy into this study just yet. It seems as if the trials were done haphazardly since the measuring of testes was only done once and doctors were not random. Randomization is crucial in accurate, unbiased results. Besides the fact of the validity, or lack there of, if they contribute this increased maturity rate in boys to an increase in fast food consumption among kids, why wouldn't the same effect be happening to girls? Boys and girls are eating the same fast food, so I would think that girls would also be maturing at a faster rate, keeping them at a faster rate than boys. I think for the most part young kids, male and female, are hitting puberty earlier and earlier. According to WebMD the faster maturity rate for girls is due to hormones, mainly being estrogen. For girls one of the main signs of puberty is having their first period. It seems that girls are getting their periods at younger ages now and starting to have sex younger too. The Center for Disease Control says 1/3 of girls get pregnant before age 20. says of the "750,000 teen pregnancies annually, 8 in 10 are unintended and 81% are to unmarried teens." These are shocking numbers, but there is good news! CBS NEWS states that The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says "the average teen birth rate decreased 9% from 2009 to 2010, reaching an all time low of 34.3 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19." While this decrease may hold true for the national average I think it is the exact opposite of what's occurring in my home state, West Virginia. West Virginia is stereotyped as being undereducated, which may contribute to teen pregnancies. The state is ranked #3 for fattest states. Fast food is definitely a contributing factor to this meaning kids are eating more of it, leading to their faster maturity rates and having sex earlier. Finally, like James said, the media has contributed to faster maturity rates. One of the teen moms from MTV's hit show lives in West Virginia, having a direct impact on teens living in West Virginia.

I would also like to point out that puberty is not the same as maturity . Just because a person reaches puberty early, does not make them mentally or emotionally mature – this goes for boys and girls alike.

Since this is such a new study, I would have to agree that I'm a little skeptical. All I've ever experienced is that girls do mature much faster than boys- I was always taller than boys in middle school and if you talk to a 12 year old boy versus a 12 year old girl it's most likely going to be clear who is the more mature person. I think Sarah made a really good point in her comment in asking why things like fast food would not also have an effect on girls and their rate of maturity. It seems to me that it's difficult to measure emotional maturity -- you can measure physical growth easily but how can we measure how mature a child's personality is becoming? In answer to your question, I definitely have not noticed a difference in the maturity changes in young boys versus young girls. I think this idea is still too new to make any solid conclusions, but I'll be interested to see if any new studies surface which prove this further. Does anyone agree that boys are "catching up"?

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