While studies have established that the sexual maturity of girls comes earlier than boys’ and is marked by the onset of menstruation and breast development, it is quite trickier for boys. How did the researchers assess such a point in boys’ lives? Through the “accident hump”, a period wherein the testosterone levels of boys suddenly peak, making them more likely to exhibit signs of machismo and recklessness and thereby upping their death rate.
Further, it is believed that the age of sexual maturity in boys has been decreasing by 2.5 months each decade since at least the middle of the 18th century, and iIt is estimated that 18-year-old boys today behave just as 22-year-old men did in the 1800s.. Says Goldstein, “being 18 today is like being 22 in 1800.” The start of the decline is said to have happened at the period of rapid industrialization and during the invention of the automobile, which are just some of the influential factors that might have influenced the said mortality rate among teenagers.
Researchers believe that better nutrition and immunity to a number of diseases have allowed the male body to use its resources towards earlier maturity.
Despite the earlier onset of sexual maturity, however, the study also notes that social and career-related maturity have, on the other hand, moved in the opposite direction and are manifesting during a later age. Boys and girls may be maturing earlier, but they’re choosing to get married and have children later in life. Says Goldstein, “The biological and social phases in the lives of young people are drifting apart.”
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Sources: • August 19, 2011. Stephanie Pappas. “Boys Reaching Sexual Maturity Earlier Than Ever” msnbc.msn.com • August 22, 2011. Rick Nauert Ph.D. “Sexual Maturity Does Not Equal Adulthood in Boys” psychcentral.com