Invest in young adolescent sexual health for long-term gain

Investing in promoting good sexual and reproductive health to young adolescents aged ten to 14 is an important step to help them develop into young adults, according to Georgetown University’s Institute for Reproductive Health. A paper published in Global Public Health argues that more resources should be directed towards helping set the stage for healthy future relationships during this early period. “Ten is not too young to help girls and boys understand their bodies and the changes that are occurring,” says Rebecka Lundgren, senior author on the paper and director of research at the Institute for Reproductive Health. “We need to reach ten to 14-year-olds, often through their parents or schools, to teach them about their bodies and support development of a healthy body image and a strong sense of self worth.” However, because the long-term benefits of focusing on these youngsters are rarely understood, the paper says that services aimed at that age group are not usually treated as a priority. The programmes that do exist are generally focused on girls, but the paper also argues for an extension of service provision to reach boys as well.