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close this bookHuman Growth and Development (FAO)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAims/objectives
View the documentBasic concepts
View the documentActivity no. 1 - The wrong information, or the right information
View the documentActivity no. 2 - The human reproductive cycle
View the documentActivity no. 3 - How does the story end?

Activity no. 1 - The wrong information, or the right information

The wrong information, or the right information

A role-playing activity to bring out misconceptions and truths about the process of growing up.



Note: If the group members are reluctant to play the game at first, the leader should play both roles, changing his position or voice to indicate when he is telling false or true information

· The leader explains to the group that they will play a role-playing game to bring out mistaken ideas some people have about growing up, and also the truth.

· Each of the group members selects a topic about growing up from the list on the following pages, or picks one of his or her own.

· The group member then makes up a small story of what misinformed people think or say about the topic. For example, if the topic is "becoming a man", the group member might say that a boy is not a man until he has sexual relations with a woman, or that to become a man a boy must kill a lion. If the topic is "menstruation", the group member might say menstruation is a serious illness and when women are menstruating they should avoid all contact with anyone else.

· The leader then interprets the part of the informed person (perhaps pretending to be a chief, or elder or even a spirit or ancestor) and gives the correct information.

· The game continues until all the topics on the following pages and any other the group members have chosen have been discussed.

The game


So that group members will be able to:

· Voice misconceptions and popular beliefs about growing up in a way that is humourous and not embarrassing to them or to people who may hold these beliefs.

· Obtain factual information about the physical and emotional changes our bodies undergo as we grow up.

· Accept the changes of adolescence and puberty without guilt or shame.



· The suggested topics on page 14 and the background information on the following pages.

· Enthusiasm for role-playing.

· Good humour.

· Seriousness and attention.

Some background information for the group leader

Why is it important that young people know about sexual development?

It makes sense to discuss health and disease because then young people will know how to avoid illness. It is easy to become ill by drinking dirty water so it is sensible to talk about this. It is important to talk about education, work, the community, etc. These are all aspects of normal human life and are subjects young people should know about as they grow up. Not to know about them is not 'bliss' - it is dangerous.

In the same way it is not bliss to he ignorant of sex because then it is much more likely that pregnancy will happen before the parents are ready. Too many children may he horn too close together which will affect the health of the mother. AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases will he passed on.

This background information contains important facts everyone should know to prepare them-selves for adulthood.

What is adolescence?

Adolescence is the combination of physical, emotional and social changes that people go through as they develop from children into adults. Young people do not "become adults" or "grow up" in a single moment, even though many societies had or still have "coming of age" ceremonies. Adolescence is a process that takes several years.

Adolescence is not a disorder, but rather a time for personal and social growth that allows young people to take better control over their lives and futures by understanding the physical, mental and social changes involved. Understanding and accepting the changes of adolescence helps young people to prepare for life as responsible adults.

What are some of the physical changes boys go through in adolescence?

The principal physical changes that appear in boys during adolescence are the following:

Growth spurt. During childhood, boys usually grow in height at a rate of 3-4 cm per year. However, during adolescence boys may grow as much as 10-12 cm in a single year. (Adolescence usually starts between l l or 13 years of age but varies quite widely.)

Muscular development. In adolescence, boys' shoulders get broader and their arms, legs and chest become more muscular.

Body hair. More hair begins to appear on boys' bodies, first in the pubic area and under the arms, and then on other parts of the body including the face, legs, chest, back and arms. However, the presence or absence of body hair is not a sign of maturity or masculinity. Some men grow more body hair than others.

Sexual development. During adolescence, the penis and testes increase in size. At this stage boys are often very concerned about the size of their penis, because many people think the size of the penis is connected with the extent of a man's masculinity. It is important for youth to know, firstly, that a penis that is large when it is not erect tends to increase less in size during erection than a smaller one and, secondly, that the size of the penis does not make one less of a man. It makes no difference to the ability to produce children or to how much satisfaction is gained from sexual relations.

Sexual development

Another part of sexual development in boys is ejaculation which is the expulsion of semen through the penis. Ejaculation indicates that the body is physically ready for reproduction. It can happen involuntarily during sleep or by voluntary stimulation of the penis, called masturbation. Masturbation is often considered "wrong" or "dirty" but it is really just another part of growing up. Masturbation helps young men to become more familiar with their bodies, and it also helps relieve physical and emotional tension.

Note: More information about menstruation and the human reproductive cycle is included m the background information for Activity No. 2 of this module.

Masturbation causes no physical harm. It does not lead to weakness or illness.

Voice changes. As boys go through adolescence, their voices become deeper.

Glandular development. The body's sweat glands begin to work harder and perspiration begins to smell stronger. The glands in the skin also begin to produce more perspiration. If the pores of the skin become blocked, this can result in pimples or acne.

What are some of the changes girls go through in adolescence?

Growth spurt. Girls also have a period of rapid growth in adolescence and may grow as much as 1 0- 12 cm in one year. Usually girls begin to mature earlier than boys, sometimes two to three years before.

Body development. As a girl moves into adolescence, her muscles stretch and her body becomes more shapely. Her hips become rounded and her breasts develop.

Body hair. As a girl grows up, she develops body hair in the pubic area and under the arms. She also grows some body hair on her arms and legs hut usually not as much as boys do.

Sexual development. Unlike in men, girls' sexual organs are inside the body and so, although they grow and mature during adolescence, this cannot be seen. At a certain point, however, usually between the ages of 11 and 13, a girl menstruates for the first time. This is a sign that her body is biologically able to reproduce (however, she will not be emotionally or socially mature until she is at least 20). At first, menstrual periods are irregular but soon they stabilize into a regular cycle, occurring approximately once a month. In the cycle, the female body prepares for pregnancy. Menstruation occurs every month unless there is pregnancy.

Sexual development

Menstruation is a normal part of a woman's life and is not a sign of illness or weakness. Some women have some pain and discomfort when they are menstruating, but most can continue their daily lives without interruption.

What emotional changes occur in adolescence?

As the bodies of young men and women undergo changes during adolescence, their feelings and emotions also change. Young people become much more concerned about their relationships with other people. They begin to become independent and to want to make decisions without assistance from their parents or other elders. At the same time, the opinions and approval of other young people, both of their own sex and of the other sex, become very important.

Sometimes young people do things they really don't want to do in an attempt to be accepted by or please people of their own age. For example, a boy or girl may have sexual relations only because someone else says "Everyone I know is doing it."

It is important for youth to become aware of these emotional changes and pressures so that they can think clearly and make responsible decisions, especially about sexual behaviour.

What social changes occur during adolescence?

A young man

As young men and women grow up, the behaviour that is expected of them from the rest of society also changes. They are expected to take on more responsibilities and are also expected to behave in particular ways that are different in every society and community. As they mature, young people must learn and respect the formal and informal rules of their society or pay the consequences. However, it may not always be correct to follow some of the informal rules. For example, in many societies men and women are expected to behave differently. People may say things like, "Act like a man," or "Men don't cry," or "Be a lady." Young people need to think carefully about social expectations and make responsible decisions.

Parts of growing up about which to dramatize misconceptions and truths

How does a boy's body change as he grows up?

When is a girl a woman?

How does a girl's body change as she grows up?

What is ejaculation?

What is menstruation?

What are pimples?

What happens to relations with young people of the same sex?

How do relations with parents change?

What is masturbation?

What happens relations with young people of the other sex?

How do emotions change during adolescence?

When is a boy a man?