Adolescence in the girl is the period
when she develops into a woman. It is that stage
in female life embraced between the ages of twelve
or fourteen and twenty-one years. Elasticity
of body, a clear complexion, and a happy control of
her feelings should mark the young girl at this time,
if she has been so fortunate as to escape the dangers
and baneful influences of childhood and infancy.
Her numerous bodily functions should be well performed.
Thus constituted she should be in a condition to take
up her coming struggle with the world, and the sex
problem it will present.
It has been noticed that in the case
of girls, puberty usually occurs earlier in brunettes
than in blondes. In general, it makes its appearance
earlier in those of a nervous or bilio-nervous temperament
than in those whose temperament is phlegmatic or lymphatic.
In the United States fourteen and a half years is
the usual age of puberty in girls. In tropical
lands, however, it is not uncommon for a girl to be
a mother at twelve. Country girls (and boys) usually
mature several months or a year later than those living
in cities. Too early a puberty in girls may well
arouse concern. It usually indicates some inherent
constitutional weakness. Premature puberty is
often associated with premature decay.
THE SIGNS AND CHANGES
In the girl the sign of puberty is
the growth of hair about the pubes, private organs
and armpits. Her whole frame remains more slender
than in the male. Muscles and joints are less
prominent, limbs more rounded and tapering. Internal
and external organs undergo rapid enlargement, locally.
The mammae (the breasts) enlarge, the ovaries
dilate, and a periodical uteral discharge (menstruation)
No young girl should feel alarmed
if, owing to the negligence of her parents or guardians
to prepare her, she is surprised by this first flow
from the genital organs. Puberty is the proper
time for the appearance of menstruation. This
is the periodical development and discharge of an
ovule (one or more) by the female, accompanied by the
discharge of a fluid, known as menses or catamenia.
Menstruation, in general good health, should occur
about every twenty-eight days, or once in four weeks.
This rule, however, is subject to great variation.
Menstruation continues from puberty to about the forty-fifth
year, which usually marks the menopause, or
“change of life.” When it disappears
a woman is no longer capable of bearing children.
Her period of fertility has passed. In rare cases
menstruation has stopped at 35, or lasted till 60.
HINTS FOR OBSERVANCE
When the period arrives a girl or
woman has a feeling of discomfort and lassitude, there
is a sense of weight, and a disclination for society.
Menstruation should not, however, be regarded as a
nuisance; a girl’s friends respect her most
when she is “unwell.” She should
keep more than usually quiet while the flow continues,
which it will do for a few days. Also, she should
avoid all unnecessary fatigue, exposure to wet or
to extremes of temperature. Some girls are guilty
of the crime of trying to arrest the menstruation flow,
and resorting to methods of stopping it. Why?
In order to attend a dance or pleasure excursion!
Lives have been lost by thus suppressing the monthly
flux. Mothers should instruct their daughters
when the menses are apt to begin, and what their function
is. During menstruation great care must be taken
in using water internally. A chill is sufficient
to arrest the flow. If menstruation does not
establish itself in a healthy or normal manner at
the proper time, consult a physician in order to remove
this abnormal condition. Any disturbance of the
delicate menstrual functions during the period, by
constrained positions, muscular effort, brain work
and mental or physical excitement, is apt to have
CONTINENCE AND THE YOUNG
Continence is, as a rule more easily
observed by the adolescent girl than by the adolescent
youth. Ordinarily the normal young girl has no
undue sexual propensities, amorous thoughts
or feelings. Though she is exposed to the danger
of meeting other girls who may be lewd in thought
and speech, in the houses of friends or at school,
she is not apt to be carried away by their example.
Yet even a good, pure-minded young girl may be debauched.
Especially during adolescence, the easy observance
of natural continence depends greatly on the proper
functioning of the feminine genital organs. These
may be easily disturbed. The syringe used for
injections, for so-called purposes of cleanliness,
is in reality a danger. The inner organs are
self-cleansing. Water or other fluids cast into
them disorder the mucous follicles, and dry up their
secretions, preventing the flowing out of some of
Nature’s necessities. A daily washing of
the inner organs for a long period with water also
produces chronic leucorrhea.
Lack of proper early training, abnormal
sex instincts, weak good nature, poverty, all may
be responsible for a young girl’s moral downfall.
As a general thing, right home training and home environment,
and sane sex education will prevent the normally good
girl from going wrong. It should be remembered,
though, that a naturally more gentle and yielding
disposition may easily lead her into temptation.
Girls who are sentimentally inclined should beware
of giving way to advances on the part of young men
which have only one object in view: the gratification
of their animal passion.
The holding of hands and similar innocent
beginnings often pave the way for more familiar caresses.
Passionate kisses the promiscuous kiss,
by the way, may be the carrier of that dread infection,
syphilis violently awaken a young girl’s
sex instincts. The fact is that many innocent
girls idealize their seducers. They believe their
lying promises, actually come to love them, and think
that in gratifying their inflamed desires, they are
giving a proof of the depth and purity of their own
Here, as in the case of the young
man, self-control should be the first thing cultivated.
And self-control should be made doubly sure by never
permitting one of the opposite sex to show undue familiarity.
Many a seemingly innocent flirtation, begun with a
kiss, has ended in shame and disgrace, in loss of
social standing and position, venereal disease, or
even death. The pure-minded and innocent girl
often becomes a victim of her ignorance of the consequences
entailed by giving in to the desires of some male
companion. The girl who has a knowledge of sex
facts is less apt to be taken advantage of in this
MODERN CONDITIONS WHICH
Excessive Freedom. - The
excessive freedom granted the young girl, especially
since the World War, must be held responsible for a
great increase in familiarity between the adolescent
youth of both sexes. Many young girls of the
“flapper” type, in particular, are victims
of these conditions of unrestrained sex association.
Sex precocity is furthered in coeducational colleges,
in the high school and the home. Adolescents
of both sexes too often are practically unhampered
in their comings and goings, their words and actions.
The surreptitious pocket flask, filled with “hooch,”
is often a feature of social parties, dances and affairs
frequented by young people. Girls and boys drink
together, and as alcohol weakens moral resistance in
the one case, and stimulates desire in the other,
deplorable consequences naturally result. In
the United States the number of girls “sent home”
from colleges, and of high-school girls being privately
treated by physicians to save them from disgrace,
is incredibly large.
Parents who do not control the social
activities of their daughters, who permit them to
spend their evenings away from home with only a general
idea of what they are doing or whom they are meeting,
need not be surprised if their morals are undermined.
The Auto. - The advent
of the automobile is responsible for an easy and convenient
manner of satisfying precociously aroused sex instincts
in young girls and boys. Often, unconscientious
pleasure-seekers roam the roads in their auto.
They accost girls who are walking and offer them a
“lift.” When the latter refuse to
gratify their desires they are often beaten and flung
from the car. The daily press has given such
publicity to this civilized form of “head hunting,”
that it is difficult to sympathize with girls who
are thus treated. They cannot help but know that
in nine cases out of ten, a stranger who invites them
to a ride, who “picks” them up, does so
with the definite purpose already mentioned in view.
Poverty. - Poverty,
too, plays a large part in driving young girls into
a life of vice. In all our large cities there
are hundreds of young women who earn hardly enough
to buy food and fuel and pay for the rent of a room
in a cheap lodging house. Feminine youth longs
for dress, for company, for entertainment. It
is easy enough to find a “gentleman friend”
who will provide all three, in exchange for “companionship.”
So the bargain is struck. These conditions exist
in a hundred and one occupations. A young woman
may go to a large city as pure as snow, but finding
no lucrative employment, lonely and despondent, she
is led to take her first step on the downward path.
Soon daily contact with vice removes abhorrence to
it. Familiarity makes it habitual, and another
life is ruined. The heartless moral code of the
cynical young pleasure-seeking male is summed up in
the cant phrase anent women: “Find, ...
and forget!” It is these girls, who are victimized
by their lack of self-restraint or moral principle,
their ignorance or weakness, who make possible the
application of such a maxim.
Both mental and physical purity are
rightfully required of the young girl about to marry.
How shall she acquire and maintain this desirable
state of purity? The process is a simple one.
She must let a knowledge of the true hygienic and
moral laws of her sex guide her in her relations with
men. She must cultivate clean thought on a basis
of physical cleanliness. She need not be ignorant
to be pure. Men she should study carefully.
She should not allow them to sit with their arm about
her waist, to hold her hand, to kiss her. No approach
nor touch beyond what the best social observance sanctions
should be permitted. Even the tendernesses and
familiarities of courtship should be restrained.
An engagement does not necessarily culminate in a
marriage, and once the foot has slipped on virtue’s
path the error cannot be recalled. These considerations,
together with those adduced in the preceding section,
“Why Young Girls Fall,” are well worth
taking to heart by every young woman who wishes to
approach matrimony in the right and proper way.