May is National Masturbation Month. Now, before you stop reading, please give me a moment to explain why I have decided to make this the topic of the May newsletter for Puberty: The Wonder Years. This might be the first time you have ever heard about this annual event. If so, you aren’t alone. Masturbation is one of those topics that very few people ever talk about. So, it makes sense that its commemorative month would also be largely undiscussed,…

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Sexual Messages & Sexual Assault: How Can Adults Help?

Sexual Messages Elementary children are exposed to countless sexual messages every day, no matter how much adults try to shield them. Television, radio, billboards, internet, video games, clothing styles and slogans, overheard adult conversations: children are awash in the sea of our sexualized culture. As a result, many children are hyper-sexualized. Sexual Assault Among the messages that children receive are some that imply that sexual violence is okay, even desirable. These messages can come from many places, and from popular sources.…

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Parents As Partners in Puberty Education

When teachers and parents form a partnership, children are more likely to form positive attitudes and behaviors regarding puberty and sexuality. In fact, more adolescents say they would like to learn about sexuality from their parents than from any other source. Yet, the educator can do much to engage and equip parents to take on the challenge of talking with their children about sex. Let’s face it: many parents did not have positive models for talking about puberty and sex…

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Evaluation Results for Puberty: The Wonder Years 2010

Evaluation Outcomes Research-Based and Evidence-Informed… Puberty: The Wonder Years was developed to utilize characteristics of evidence-based sexuality education programs and incorporates best-practice strategies for developing positive health behaviors in young people. When selecting sexuality education curriculum, it is important to look for evidence of effectiveness. Puberty: The Wonder Years 2010, the previous edition, has shown very positive evaluation results, including the following: 68% increase in students who have talked with their parents or another trusted adult about puberty 15% increase in…

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Sex Education in Elementary Schools: Gender Segregated or Coed?

I am often asked… …if boys and girls should be separated for sex education, especially in the elementary grades. Pros and cons exist for either approach to sex education in the elementary grades. Gender-Segregated Instruction Pros Cons When boys and girls are in separate classes, they may feel more comfortable asking questions about sex-specific topics, such as menstruation and nocturnal emissions. Some parents and educators are more supportive of teaching boys and girls separately. Instruction may be differentiated more easily to…

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#WhyCare — Jun

While I was working with a group at one of the big ten universities, a grad student shared the story of her 20-year-old roommate Jun, who was also attending the university. Jun’s mother, who lives in China, had never told Jun anything about sex. One night, Jun was drinking alcohol with her then-boyfriend, and he raped her. She was devastated and didn’t know what had happened to her. Fortunately, Jun did not get pregnant. The grad student decided that someone had to talk…

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#WhyCare — Brian

While shopping recently, a young man named Brian helped me select my purchase. In the course of our conversation, I told him about the work I do. He lit up! Brian told me how important it was that I continue to improve sex education for young people in schools. Then, he shared his own story. Brian attended a local school where he was often the target of teasing. However, what really bothered him was that his siblings and cousin were…

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#WhyCare — Jennifer

Recently, a teacher named Jennifer told me this story. When Jennifer was three, she woke up early on Christmas morning. Very excited to begin her day, she burst into her parents’ bedroom to find her mother on top of her father. Her parents shrieked, “Go out! And shut the door!” Later that morning, the family went to church, just as they always did on Sundays. During the children’s sermon, the pastor asked the kids what surprises they found that Christmas…

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How Can We Remain Silent About Puberty? Part 2

Young people are being harmed: Fewer than four in ten (38%) young teen mothers (age 18 and younger) graduate from high school by age 22.[1] Nearly half (48%) of 7th to 12th graders have experienced sexual harassment in school. The large majority (87%) said the sexual harassment had a negative effect on them.[2] Approximately one in three (32%) girls and one in seven (14%) boys are sexually abused by age 18.[3] Dating violence occurs in four in ten teen couples.[4]…

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#WhyCare — Dylan

Many years ago, I was working with a rural school district that needed support in planning their sex education programming. A nurse shared the life-altering experience she had while working in a clinic in southern Michigan. A teenager–let’s call him Dylan–came into the clinic because he was having trouble seeing. After examining the youth, the doctor realized Dylan had a type of vision loss that must have been worsening over a long period of time. When the doctor asked Dylan…

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#WhyCare — Annie

Annie is an intelligent, compassionate person who carefully balances her parenting role with her professional role. Now that her children are in elementary school, Annie realizes she needs to have some “talks” with her son and daughter. This point was driven home when her mother handed her the very same book on puberty that she had given to Annie as a child. Annie’s mother instructed her, “Be sure you share this book with the kids. And when you’re done, give…

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How Can We Remain Silent About Puberty? (Part 1)

Young people are getting mixed messages: Sex is still considered a dirty word and a taboo subject, even though sex is everywhere. Sex is used to sell products, internet services, movies, and television shows, and is the topic of jokes and conversations, but many young people have difficulty accessing reliable information. Mainstream culture is shouting “do it” while young people are told “don’t do it.” Young people are receiving distorted messages: Peers, who are likely to be misinformed, are often…

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What educators are saying

“My students had lots of questions! They thanked me for being willing to teach them about what is happening to them.”



Mike B., Lansing School District

“Puberty: The Wonder Years doesn’t just stick to puberty. The curriculum also includes lessons on topics that I think are necessary, such as bullying and social-emotional components. There’s also a lot of scripting for really good conversation and prompts for the teachers.”

Tim Kordic, Project Advisor for Sexual Health & HIV Prevention, Los Angeles Unified School District

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Health Coordinator of the Year

Health Educator of the Year

Wendy receives her award from the American School Health Association