Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Medicine: early puberty may increase risk of being victimized

Being victimized in this study includes being involved in physical fights, getting shot or stabbed, or playing for the Indiana Pacers.

"There is something unique about early maturity (relative to one's peers) that opens opportunities for victimization experiences," the study's authors write.

"It's not puberty that is what ultimately causes kids to get victimized," study co-author Dr. Alex Piquero, a criminologist at the University of Florida, told Reuters Health. "Early puberty seems to open up a different set of doors and social experiences to kids," he said, explaining that early maturing youngsters may start socializing with the opposite sex and with older, bigger, and stronger youth earlier than those who do not experience puberty early.

"Just like when people date," he said, "it opens up a world of different sets of people that they've never interacted with."

It is well known that young people who experience puberty early have a higher risk of depression, substance use, disruptive behaviors and various other conditions, yet researchers had not before investigated whether these youth were also more susceptible to victimization.
As a boy who was fully pimpled in third grade and had a full beard in seventh grade, I have to report I was never drafted by the Indiana Pacers.

This particular study doesn't seem to address some of the physiologic consequences of early versus late puberty, which seem particulary significant for girls, as girls who experience puberty later tend to have the slimmer physiques of Cosmopolitan, while girls who experience puberty earlier tend to have the ghetto booties of MTV Jams.

Guys like me who went through super-early puberty simply get tired of shaving by the age of 19 and grow furry beards and wear lots of flannel.

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