Wednesday, 14 March 2012
Almost two years ago, a Chinese nine year old girl gave birth by Caesarean section. The story still gets passed around as though it were new, and people react with horror. A quick search of youngest mothers (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_youngest_birth_mothers) yields results that are nothing less than tragic.
A mother just under six years of age is reportedly the youngest ever. In Peru in 1939. That seems so long ago, in a less evolved world. We should know so much better now, shouldn't we? And so far away, on other continents.
Online comments start "Where were the parents?" Yep, blame the victim by assessing lazy parenting in some far-off land, assuring that babies born to parents who still have their baby teeth won't happen in our neighborhoods, where we applaud helicopter moms for just a moment after reading such stories. Make a stop at the self-righteous claims of "There's a case for abortion!" End with "How did she get pregnant, and/or give birth?"
Those are some valid, reactive questions to ask. Sure, we can bring judgment, politics, social and physical environment, and human biology into the discussion. After that though, let's look at how many ten year old mommies "happened." Between 1834 and last November, over 60 ten year olds, the majority of them in the US, had the experience of childbirth. That's stunning. And these are just the cases that were reported.
Children are resilient, but how far can a child recover from such an experience, regardless of the circumstances that caused the pregnancy? What kind of conversation would we have with our own children, if this were her friend? Precocious puberty (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002152/) has different causes, and obviously is not readily apparent. The side effects of such an experience can be devastating to a child.
Although precocious puberty, and children birthing children may not be the norm, it makes the argument for body awareness from a young age, instead of having "the talk."
Does this article change your mind about how and when to educate your children about puberty and sexuality?