Early puberty causes school sex education ‘national crisis’

Sunday Star Times 12 October 2008

A top research scientist is calling for high-level action from schools and health authorities to help children cope with the early onset of puberty. “It’s an emerging national crisis,” says Liggins Institute director Professor Peter Gluckman. “How many people in this country are competent to talk to an eight or nine-old boy or girl about what’s happening to their body? Most parents aren’t, because they didn’t go through puberty at that age, and teachers I meet, no matter how willing they are, admit they aren’t prepared to deal with it.”

Gluckman, an expert in the implications of evolutionary biology for health, is calling on educators and health authorities to talk to psychologists and other experts to develop a comprehensive life skills programme for young people. “The most important machine people will ever drive is their own body and what we don’t do in this country is to teach people to drive their own body.