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Physical Growth in Adolescents
Chapter Review

After reading this chapter, students should understand that:

  • Physical changes that occur during the adolescent period include a growth spurt during which girls tend to gain as much as 20 pounds and boys as much as 25 pounds; girls tend to begin their growth spurt about two years before boys; the head, hand and feet usually begin the spurt in growth first followed by the arms and legs and then the trunk and shoulders; during the spurt in growth, bones become longer and more dense and muscles become thicker and denser—muscle growth is more pronounced in boys and increases in fat is more pronounced in girls; heart and lung capacity increase, more so in boys than in girls
  • For children and adolescents, the best defense against developing osteoporosis includes consuming approximately 1,300 milligrams of calcium per day and engaging in weight bearing exercise
  • Sexual maturation includes changes in both primary sex characteristics (i.e., organs directly related to reproduction such as the ovaries and vagina for girls and the scrotum, testes and penis for boys) and secondary sex characteristics (i.e., physical signs of maturation not directly linked to reproductive organs such as growth in breasts of girls and growth of facial hair in boys); there is a predictability about the growth of sex characteristics—for girls, puberty begins with growth in breasts and the growth spurt, followed by growth in pubic hair and then menarche; for boys, puberty tends to begin with growth in the testes and scrotum, followed by growth of pubic hair, followed by the growth spurt and, finally, the first ejaculation
  • The pituitary gland regulates the growth the occurs during puberty by sending signals to other glands to start secreting hormones; before any visible signs of puberty begins, the pituitary signals the adrenal glands to releases androgens which starts the process of body hair growth; with early adolescence, the pituitary signals the ovaries of girls to release estrogen which causes breasts to enlarge, genitals to mature and fat to accumulate; in boys, the pituitary signals the testes to release testosterone which causes genitals to mature and muscle mass to increase; estrogen and androgen are present in both boys and girls; factors related to both nature and nurture impact the timing of pubertal events
  • The timing of pubertal events is impacted by genetics (e.g., girls tend to experience menarche close in age that their mother experienced menarche); the environment influences the timing of events (e.g., healthy and well nourished girls tend to experience menarche at an earlier age than less healthy peers); and, the social environment can influence the timing of pubertal events (e.g., girls who experience stressful home environments and/or depression often experience menarche before their peers)
  • In today’s society, most girls know about menarche and are able to talk about it with their mothers; they tend to be pleased about their growing maturity, although they often are frustrated by the inconveniences that come with getting their period, boys tend to know about spermarche before it happens but tend to learn about it from the media and are less likely to talk to others about the experience; changes in hormone levels can often impact levels of moodiness although the effect is usually small; moodiness tends to depend on the situation and, as adolescents change settings often throughout the day, their moods tend to change often as well; the rate of maturation has a large psychological impact on adolescents
  • For boys, early maturation tends to be associated with being more mature and self-confident than late maturing peers; early maturing boys are more popular and have more positive feelings about their physical development and athletic abilities than their late maturing peers; late maturing boys tend to feel frustrated by their slow maturation and the feeling of being treated like a child and not like a young man
  • For girls, early maturation is associated with being less self-confident and popular and to exhibit more symptoms of depression and behavior problems than their late maturing female peers; early maturing girls often enter into social situations that are age-inappropriate; while the impact of the rate of maturation eventually disappears as adolescents enter adulthood, the impact of early maturing girls often prolongs throughout life
  • Most adolescents have sex during the adolescent period; girls tend to describe their first sexual partner as someone they love while boys describe their first sexual partner as a casual date; unlike boys, girls tend to have stronger feelings of love for this first partner than later partners; girls tend to have mixed emotions after their first sexual experience—they view it as romantic and related to intimacy with others; boys tend to view their first sexual experience as recreational; parents and peers have a big influence on the sexual activity of adolescents
  • Cases of HIV, and other sexually transmitted diseases, are highly represented in the adolescent population of the United States because adolescents are more likely to have unprotected sex and use intravenous drugs than adults
  • Factors related to the infrequent use of contraceptives by adolescents include ignorance, an illusion of invulnerability, lack of motivation and lack of access to contraceptives
  • The roots of sexual orientation are poorly understood; inaccurate assumptions are that boys become homosexual if they have a domineering mother and weak father, that girls become lesbians when their father is the primary caregiver, that children become homosexual if their parents are homosexual, and that, as children, homosexual adults were seduced by same-sexed adults; more accurate explanations for the roots of sexual orientation are found in genes and hormones and the influence hormones have on the choices people make in their environmental contexts
  • Socialization plays a role in date rape; males learn that a large sex drive is masculine and girls learn that they should strive to attract the attention of males; males are led to believe that when a girl says "no" it is often because society has taught her it is the right thing to say and not that she actually means "no"; males often assume the female interest in sex matches the male’s interest; substance abuse, style of dress, and the sexual history of the male and female can also influence the occurrence of date rape
  • There are a variety of ways in which females can increase their odds of avoiding date rape such as: staying away from males whose behavior is inappropriate/disrespectful, setting clear limits and intentions with partners, and staying sober in dating situations
  • Adolescent girls need about 2,200 calories per day and boys need about 2,700; adolescents need adequate levels of calcium and iron and to moderate their fat and sodium intake
  • Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder marked by a refusal to eat and a fear of gaining weight; anorexia nervosa is associated with a distorted body image and the likelihood of damage to the heart and death; bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder marked by bingeing and purging; girls are more likely to have an eating disorder than boys; faced with the growth spurt of adolescence and societal and potentially damaging parental influences, girls can feel pressure to begin to lose weight; there seems to also be a biological predisposition for anorexia and bulimia
  • Participating in sports leads to improved physical fitness, enhanced self-esteem and feelings of personal initiative, and learning about teamwork and competition; sports can also lead to injuries and pressure to take performance enhancing drugs
  • Common threats to adolescent well-being include automobile accidents and firearms; there are gender and racial differences in the causes of adolescent death in the United States
  • While the decision-making process is similar for adults and adolescents, adolescents tend to be more significantly influenced by peer pressures and the social consequences of their actions than adults



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