AEP - Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions
Based on the experience of managing the Adolescence Education Programme and seeking regular feedback from different stakeholders, a list of questions pertaining to different aspects of the programme have been compiled. We would encourage you to review the questions and their responses. In case you have a question that is not yet included in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), please post your query from the Question Box feature. You will receive a response within 10 working days. If the moderator considers that your question may be of interest to others, the question along with the response will be posted under the relevant thematic head in the FAQs feature.

The Adolescence Education Programme (AEP) is an important initiative that aims to empower young people with accurate, age appropriate and culturally relevant information, promote healthy attitudes and develop skills to enable them to respond to real life situations in positive and responsible ways. The program focuses on enhancing life skills to enable young people to tackle real-life situations effectively.

The Adolescence Education Programme (AEP) is an educational response to the needs, concerns and realities ofadolescents in India. It describes the realities of Indian adolescents, and adolescence education as a systematic response to address their concerns. It incorporates all the critical concerns of adolescent reproductive and sexual health (ARSH) in the specific context of Indian socio-cultural ethos.

The AEP ensures that schools will provide accurate and age appropriate life skills based adolescence education in a sustained manner to young people. The AEP was launched by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) in 2005 and is supported by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). AEP being coordinated by National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and implemented by national agencies, including Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS), Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS) and National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS). NCERT also implements the National Population Education Project (NPEP) in 30 states and union territories that encourages participation from state board schools on issues related to adolescent health and well being through creative and interactive group activities such as role plays, folk dance. AEP is also being implemented by States and Union Territories through SCERTs and State Boards with support of State AIDS Control Society (SACS).

Adolescence Education Programme (AEP) is implemented by different agencies at various levels. At the national level, the programme is co-ordinated by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The implementing agencies include National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) and Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS). The interventions include support for integration of life skills and adolescent concerns in the learning materials of National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) at the secondary level. The other important program component is implemented through schools in the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS) and Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS). This program component works through a cascade training approach that has created a pool of school system and board specific master trainers who orient nodal teachers who are further entrusted with the responsibility of transacting life skills based education to school students (classes 8, 9 and 11, ages 13 through 18) using interactive methodologies. NCERT is also the coordinating agency on behalf of MHRD across 30 states and Union Territories and implements the National Population Education Project (NPEP) through state council of educational Research and Training (SCERT). These initiatives are part of the Quality Improvement in Schools Scheme of MHRD.

The key stakeholder of AEP includes the policy framers, opinion leaders, media persons, curriculum developers, officials in the Departments of Education and School Systems teacher educators, teachers, parents and adolescents.

Adolescence Education (AE) is guided by the National Curriculum Framework (NCF), 2005 which recommends that education should instill ‘independence of thought and action, sensitivity to others’ well-being and feelings, learning to respond to new situations in a flexible and creative manner, predisposition towards participation in democratic processes, and the ability to work towards and contribute to economic processes and social change.” AE aims to empower young people through participatory, process oriented, non-judgmental approaches that build on the experiences of learners, provide them with opportunities to critically think, analyze and infer learning rather than prescribing a pre-determined set of behaviors. Activities like Question-Box, Group Discussion, Role Plays, Case Studies, Painting/Poster Competition, Essay Competitions and Quiz Contest are proving very effective in providing accurate and adequate informationto learners and inculcating in them positive attitude and developing the ability to respond to real life situations effectively.

Master Trainers: The AEP has created school system and geography specific master trainers who orient nodal teachers. Nodal Teachers: Two teachers per school are considered nodal teachers. These teachers are selected against pre-determined criteria by the school principal and are the key persons responsible for effective implementation of AEP in schools. These nodal teachers are entrusted with orienting all the teachers in their school in approximately 23 hours within 2-3 months of receiving the training. Sensitized teachers transact AEP in grades 8 through 11 over 23 hours in an academic year. Nodal teachers are expected to contribute to advocacy related activities for aproper appreciation of needs of adolescents and the significance of AEP, particularly for the parents. Nodal teachers are also responsible for monitoring of the Programme and submission of monthly and annual reporting forms. Principal: They provide the needed space and time for effective implementation of AEP activities. They extend required support to teachers, and other trained personnel in school for planning and organizing AEP activities. They also provide constant support and encouragement to nodal teachers to conduct activities related to AEP. Principals ensure that the programme is monitored and reports sent as per agreed upon protocols. They encourage development in use of innovative methodologies for transaction of AEP themes and organization of Life Skills focused co-curricular activities.

The key themes covered under AEP are ‘understanding changes during adolescence and beingcomfortable with them, establishing and maintaining positive and responsible relationships, understandingand challenging stereotypes and discrimination related to gender and sexuality, understanding and reporting abuse and violation, prevention of HIV/AIDS and prevention of substance misuse.

The Adolescence Education Programme (AEP) is an important initiative that aims to empower young people with accurate, age appropriate and culturally relevant information, promote healthy attitudes and develop skills to enable them to respond to real life situations in positive and responsible ways.

AEP focusses on participatory teaching-learning and curriculum transaction methods thatbuild on the experiences of learners rather than didactic and rote teaching methods. Curriculum transaction approaches of AE issues primarily focused on participatory and experiential modes of learning are effective for life skills development.

Adolescence Education (AE) is guided by the National Curriculum Framework (NCF), 2005 which recommends that education should instill ‘independence of thought and action, sensitivity to others’ wellbeing and feelings, learning to respond to new situations in a flexible and creative manner, predisposition towards participation in democratic processes, and the ability to work towards and contribute to economic processes and social change.” Based on these principles, AE aims to provide young people with accurate, age appropriate and culturally relevant information; promote healthy attitudes and develop skills to enable them to respond to real-life situations effectively.

Every individual, has the right to get accurate, age appropriate and scientific information about physical and psychological development and changes, including sexual development. With research from all over the world showing  that puberty is advancing, it becomes all the more important to teach adolescents and young people about the human biological system as it enables them to better understand their experiences and clarify several myths and misconceptions attached to it. Having an accurate and comprehensive understanding about human reproduction makes them take more responsible decisions.

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manishprivet808@gmail.com

It is not only boys, but girls also get attracted to the opposite sex. Getting attracted to the opposite sex in adolescence is a normal and natural phenomenon. The female hormone, oestrogen is mainly responsible for the changes that occur in females while the male hormone testosterone is mainly responsible for the changes in males. All these changes are highly correlated with sexual development, as during adolescence significant physical changes take place in terms of development of secondary sexual characteristics. Any adolescent is curious and wants to find out more about the opposite sex which is perfectly healthy and normal. Although you may feel hesitant, you should talk to your parents or to a mature person about any queries you might have. Do not be embarrassed, as everyone; including the elders around you have gone through a similar phase. The more information you gather from authentic websites like www.aeparc.org on growing up, the less mysterious the subject will be. 

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moheynikita13@gmail.com, sharmahemant108@yahoo.com

Attitudes are formed at an early age, hence engaging with young people is important to help develop positive attitudes in them and thereby inculcating rational and responsible behaviour. Almost all adolescents undergo a phase similar to the one you are experiencing. Teachers usually have high expectations in academia from their students. This is usually because they feel that excellent academic performance alone can enable young people to live a good life. If they feel that the young person is deviating from the path of academic excellence, they get concerned and often times resort to counselling.  Teachers help you to access accurate and authentic sources so that young people like you develop life skill and take responsible decisions. Teachers perceive that counselling and in some situations punishment is the only way of bringing the child back on track. Teachers should make efforts and enable adolescents to discover their interest and motivate them to pursue it to the best of their abilities. 

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pretty_lalyan@live.com

Good habits are indeed part of a safety net. Hobbies such as reading books, music, sports, yoga, helping others or anything else that interests and inspires you can be a good stress buster and can rejuvenate an individual to focus on other responsibilities that s/he may have. Staying connected with friends, colleagues, family and relatives is good. Connecting on social networking sites like face book during the day is not harmful, but  you need to take stock of whether you are spending far too much time and neglecting other responsibilities that you have. This is true for any hobby you may have. You need to strike a balance!

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abhishek.choudhury1001@gmail.com

It is essential that you take a logical and scientific approach towards stream selection after your 12th examination. It is important to know what you are interested in and what the possible career paths that you are considering are. Most students suffer from under performance, de-motivation or loss of interest only because they get into a stream that they are not interested in. Too many young people feel pressured into making a choice before they are really sure of what they want to do later in their lives. There are various factors that contribute towards a successful career. One of the first considerations is a realistic and informed subject choice. Analyse your strengths and weaknesses in a particular subject. You need to gather as much information as possible that is required in a particular stream, talk to teachers and experts in that area and take a sensible decision for selecting the stream you are considering. It may be a good idea to talk to some of your role models to better understand the realities of the choices that you are considering.

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dashprerana16@gmail.com

Friendships are gender neutral relationships. Rather than defining friendships by the sex of the friend, trust, mutual respect and honesty are the core elements of meaningful and positive friendships.  In any relationship, it is important to assess our feelings and communicate them honestly. Self-confidence and assertiveness are essential for maintaining positive relationships. Good friends enable us to discover our strengths, identify our weaknesses and help us to overcome them.  In most situations, feelings should be recognised rather than pretending they do not exist. Repressing feelings or pretending they do not exist can lead to frustration, anger and/or depression. At the same time, over-indulgence in feelings is also unhealthy, and can create many serious problems in life. We need to learn how to handle our feelings in a balanced way. 

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Prasanghwasekar@rediffmail.com,iitianajitesh13@gmail.com

In the AEP, resource persons and nodal teachers are individuals who have received an in-depth orientation to the programme at the national level and are entrusted with the responsibility of further orienting school teachers and students to respond to concerns of adolescents effectively. Since you are exposed to the AEP training programme you can contribute towards monitoring the programme, advocating with different stakeholders, such as the school staff, administrators or parents, suggesting innovations for improving the effectiveness of AEP, such as organizing theme-based activities for various stakeholders in consultation with your authorities. However, based on the level of maturity of the learners, you should introduce topics like AIDS and substance misuse by organising ‘Question box’ activity. You should encourage the learners to put questions into the box. At times seeking a response from the learners themselves using a participatory approach is also useful.  You should be open to your students about the topic and develop a rapport with them that would help create a level of comfort enabling them to enquire further and get the accurate and age appropriate information. The experience of AEP shows that teachers who have been trained are better able and comfortable talking about these issues. 

Email (Question Box): 
madhusudan.pandey51@gmail.com

There is no vaccine for HIV. The virus has unique ways of evading the immune system, and the human body seems incapable of mounting an effective immune response against it. In the absence of any vaccine, education and being aware of the causes, prevention and management is critical.

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vinumash@gmail.com

Good genital hygiene is particularly important for girls and women during periods. They may use sanitary napkins, or cloth. One should always use a clean sanitary napkin that should be changed frequently (every four to six hours) to prevent infections. If a cloth is used which needs to be reused, it should be washed thoroughly and disinfected by drying in the sun. Sanitary napkins should never be flushed down the toilet because it may clog the drainage system and lead to flooding of the toilet. After use, the sanitary pad should be wrapped in a newspaper or any waste paper and put in a garbage bin. It is also necessary to dispose of the contents of the garbage bin promptly because if the sanitary pad is left in the garbage bin for a long time, it will decay and emit a foul smell. It is therefore important to keep the garbage bin covered to prevent any foul smell from spreading in one’s house/ school and to dispose of the garbage promptly to prevent spread of diseases carried by flies and other insects that gather around these garbage bins. Schools should organize programmes related to maintenance of hygiene, focusing on this on a regular basis.

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mookammalchelliah@gmail.com

Nocturnal emission is the release of semen from the body during sleep among boys.  Many people also call it as night fall or wet dreams. Although most adolescent boys experience nocturnal emission during their puberty, it is not necessary that all should experience this. Nocturnal emission sometimes has a purely physiological basis. It is not necessarily accompanied by sexual feelings or dreams. It is completely normal and natural, nothing to be frightened, guilty or embarrassed about.

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snjnvk69@gmail.com

Attraction and romantic feelings are a normal part of adolescence growing up. Love and relationships are gender neutral relations. In any relationship trust, mutual respect and honesty are core elements. It is important to assess the feelings and communicate them honestly. Self-confidence and assertiveness are essential for maintaining positive relationships. Good friends enable us to discover our strengths, identify our weaknesses and help us to overcome them.  In most situations, feelings should be recognised rather than pretending they do not exist. Repressing feelings or pretending they do not exist can lead to frustration, anger and/or depression. It is also important to remember that feelings cannot be imposed on anyone. One should be willing to express one’s feelings sincerely. However, the other person is free to respond based on his/ her feelings. At the same time, over-indulgence in feelings is also unhealthy, and can create many serious problems in life. We need to learn how to handle our feelings in a balanced way. However, as a young person, you may also explore interests and activities such as sports, fine arts, social service and hobbies that will develop one’s overall personality and strike a healthy balance in life.

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hritika2899@gmail.com

Friendship is a  gender neutral relationship. Rather than defining friendship by the sex of the friend, trust, mutual respect and honesty should be  the core  of the relationship.   In any relationship, it is important to assess ones feelings and communicate them honestly and at the same time honoring the socio- cultural boundaries. It is also important to understand one’s responsibility. Self-confidence and assertiveness are essential for maintaining positive relationships. Good friends enable us to discover our strengths, identify our weaknesses and help us to overcome them.  In most situations, feelings should be recognised rather than pretending they do not exist. Repressing feelings or pretending they do not exist can lead to frustration, anger and/or depression. At the same time, over-indulgence in feelings is also unhealthy, and can create many serious problems in life. As a young person you should explore interest in studies and also need to learn how to handle ones  feelings and relationships in a balanced way. 

Email (Question Box): 
prachi.punctual99@gmail.com

We will be glad to have you as a member . Please visit the AEP website www.aeparc.org and register yourself as a member.  You can contribute to the E-Discussion Forum and also access relevant documents available on the website. Once privy to the resource materials you can interact with young students in your school, can advocate with different stakeholders, such as the school staff, administrators or parents by integrating theme-based activities in the existing / ongoing programme and activities on AEP. You can also share on the AEP-ARC portal work that you have done as a teacher.

Email (Question Box): 
sigaramsathish@gmail.com

You need to make plans and set a goal which is realistic for yourself and as per your capability and interest.  Try and give importance to yourself and feel good about what you do. Utilise your positive traits in a productive way. Identify the factors which distract you from studies. You will be able to avoid the lethargy once you become aware of it.  It is also important to appreciate the good qualities in others and learn from them. You can consult your parents, teachers, or any other person you rely on and discuss this issue with them for advice. You are advised to engage in physical activity like sports and can do yoga in the morning.  You may also consult a doctor to find out any medical reasons for your laziness. It is important to recognize your positive attributes and strengths and work on it further.

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kumarvishwas42@yahoo.com

From your question, it is not clear what do you want to say in terms of harassment. During adolescence, almost all adolescents develop a strong sense of identity and have strong views about many issues. They may not always agree with their parents and other adults around them. This may lead to conflict between adolescents and their parents and family members. Adolescents should recognize that it is not necessary to agree with their parents or anyone else on everything, however, they must learn to express their thoughts and feelings and communicate them in a clear, honest and respectful manner without putting down either themselves or the other person/s. It is important to understand that they may have a point of view just as you have. Their thinking is naturally influenced by the rigorous modes of behaviour instilled in them during their own childhood. Adolescents, on the other hand, tend to behave in a manner which appears to be in contrast to the prevailing normal behaviour of adults. Parents also need to recognise that adolescence is a period of sudden and rapid growth and development among children. Parents should not feel that their adolescent child is disrespecting them. It is necessary for parents to encourage and guide adolescents on how they can take independent decisions in respect of various aspects of their life.

Email (Question Box): 
palrai171997@gmail.com

It has been observed that young people are highly influenced by their peers and mimic their behaviors.  In many instances, young people are influenced by their peers to experiment with cigarettes, alcohol and other harmful substances. Peer pressure can be managed by being aware of the implications of drug abuse and developing skills to manage peer pressure. Young people should also be educated to recognize that a friend is someone who cares, protects and looks after the welfare of their friends rather than coerce them/ initiate them into unhealthy habits. Negative peer pressure may result in risky behaviour. Positive peer pressure can show up as support for each other in developing their talents, hobbies or non-normative behaviour such as boys doing housework or adolescent girls playing sports. Recent research with school-going adolescents indicates strong influence or such positive peer pressure (Concurrent evaluation AEP, 2011).

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guptauk70@gmail.com

 The explanations about function and structure of sex organ are already there in text books. However, based on the level of maturity of the learners, the teacher should introduce the topic by organizing question box activity. The teacher should encourage the learners to put questions into the box. Quite often a participatory approach in responding is also useful by asking learners who think they know the answers respond to them. Teachers should be open to their students about the topic and develop a rapport with them that would help create a comfort level enabling them to enquire further and get the accurate and age appropriate information. The experience of AEP shows that teachers who have been trained are better able and comfortable talking about these issues. 

 

Email (Question Box): 
bevarasreedhar@yahoo.com

Everyone matures and goes through changes in adolescence. All changes related to adolescence (physical, emotional, psycho-social and cognitive) do not take place at the same time and in the same way for everyone. Some people mature early, others later. As a result, it is possible that physical changes may take place early, but psycho-social changes take place later in the same individual. It may also happen the other way around. Two adolescents of the same age may have different levels of maturity, experiencing changes at varying pace. You are advised to do regular exercise and take nutritious food including green vegetables. 

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abhinavsingh.300bc@gmail.com

It is not necessary for everyone to have friends; however there is no harm in having friends. Friendships are gender neutral relationships. Trust, mutual respect and honesty are the core elements of meaningful and positive friendships.  Good friends can show up as support for each other in developing their talents, hobbies or non-normative behavior such as boys doing housework or adolescent girls playing sports. In many occasions in life, friends enable us to discover our strengths, identify our weaknesses and help us to overcome them.

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rishi.bffs@gmail.com

Adolescence Education Programme (AEP) aims to empower young people through participatory, process-oriented, non-judgmental approaches that build on the experiences of learners, provide them with opportunities to critically think, analyze and infer learning rather than prescribing a pre-determined set of behaviors. Activities like Question-Box, Group Discussion, Role Plays, Case Studies, Painting/Poster Competition, Essay Competitions and Quiz Contest are proving very effective in providing accurate and adequate information to learners and inculcating in them positive attitude and developing the ability to respond to real life situations effectively.

Email (Question Box): 
praise.pretty@gmail.com

Though we do not have authentic research on the aspect, however the available literature states that HIV is a fragile virus outside of the body and it needs the human body as its host. HIV does not survive long outside the human body, and it cannot reproduce. It is not spread by Air or water, Insects, including mosquitoes, Saliva, tears, or sweat. There is no documented case of HIV being transmitted by spitting, casual contact like shaking hands or sharing dishes, kissing and using Toilet seats.

Email (Question Box): 
rush2kuntal@yahoo.com

I think you want to know about Resource Persons in Adolescence Education Programme (AEP). In AEP, Resource Persons are individuals who have received an in-depth training in the programme at the national level and are entrusted with the responsibility of further orienting school teachers to respond to concerns of adolescents effectively. These individuals are readily available human resources who can contribute towards monitoring the programme, advocating with different stakeholders, such as the school staff, administrators or parents, suggesting innovations for improving the effectiveness of AEP, such as organizing theme-based activities for various stakeholders. Essentially, they are the friends of Adolescence Education Programme. 

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coordshpani@gmail.com

During adolescence, as one attains sexual physical, emotional, mental maturity as one reaching towards adolescence to adulthood. These developments are a natural part of growing up process. 

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anagha.mary.7@gmail.com

It is not only boys, but girls also get attracted to opposite sex. Getting attracted to the opposite sex in adolescence is a normal and natural phenomenon. The female hormone, oestrogen is mainly responsible for the changes in the females while the male hormone testosterone is mainly responsible for the changes in the males. All these changes are highly correlated with sexual development, as during adolescence significant physical changes take place in terms of development of secondary sexual characteristics. Adolescent does want to find out more about the opposite sex which is perfectly healthy and normal. Although you may feel hesitant, you should talk to your parents or to a matured person about any queries you might have. Do not be embarrassed, as everyone; including the elders around you have gone through a similar phase. The more information you collect on growing up from authentic sources, the less mysterious the subject will remain to you.

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shrotriyashivam1997@gmail.com

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, which causes impairment to the immune system in humans. AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is not genetically inherited. It is a condition caused by HIV virus. AIDS does not discriminate between classes, castes and communities. It spreads rapidly among people with high-risk behaviours such as persons who have multiple sex partners and injecting drug users who share needles. 

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utkarsha.jadhav10@gmail.com

Yours is not an exceptional problem. Almost all adolescents develop a strong sense of identity and have strong views about issues. They may not always agree with their parents and other adults around them. This may lead to conflict between adolescents and their parents. Adolescents should recognize that it is not necessary to agree with their parents or anyone else on everything. However, they must learn to express their thoughts and feelings to communicate in a clear, honest and respectful manner without putting down either themselves or the other person/s. Parents are likely to have some similar experiences as the adolescents of today. Discussing issues would help them feel connected and reduce the `generation gap’. Even when the experiences are different, it can be interesting to know about and understand what has shaped the different views and thoughts of people in different generations. However, you must try to understand that they may have a point of view just as you have. Their thinking is naturally influenced by the rigorous modes of behaviour instilled in them during their own childhood. Adolescents on the other hand tend to behave in a manner which appears to be in contrast to the prevailing normal behaviour of adults.

 

Parents have to recognise that adolescence is a period of sudden and rapid growth and development among children. Adolescents develop a tendency to assert their identity, start taking their own decisions. Parents should not feel that their adolescent child is disrespecting them. They should respect the independent identity of adolescents. It is necessary for parents to encourage and guide adolescents on how they can take independent decisions in respect of various aspects of their life. 

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anishaastar1@gmail.com

You should try to have an assertive communication with person/s disrespecting you. But before you have the conversation you must self-introspect and identify your positive qualities, and utilise those traits in a productive way. Awareness of positive traits and qualities will make you feel good and will enhance your self-esteem. You can also consult your parents, teachers, any other person whom you trust and have a discussion. Feel good and give importance to yourself. Inculcate feelings of positivity, feel good about yourself and things will be better for you. It is also important to recognize that nobody can be good at everything. Try to develop your qualities and also focus on taking care of your weaknesses. 

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shubhamkumar.sk7@gmail.com

Sex is biologically determined and is either male or female. Adolescence begins with the onset of puberty. Hormonal changes initiate the physical and physiological changes in the body. The female hormone, oestrogen is mainly responsible for the changes in females while the male hormone testosterone is mainly responsible for the changes in males. All these changes are highly correlated with sexual development, as during this period significant physical changes take place in terms of development of secondary sexual characteristics. Although you may feel hesitant, you should talk to your parents or to a matured person about any queries you might have related to your body and growing up. Do not be embarrassed, as everyone; including the elders around you have gone through a similar phase. The more information you collect on sex from authentic sources, the less mysterious the subject will seem to you. 

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kumar.sujit927@gmail.com

Choosing a career is a matter of great joy and responsibility. It is important that you spend sufficient time in exploring your interests and finding out enough about the possible career choices that you may have so that you take an informed decision and are comfortable with the choice you make. We would recommend that first you think through the reasons you want to make a particular career choice and then share your views with your parents, friend/ sibling.  You can also consult professional career counsellors and seek their advice. There are several young people who face similar dilemmas. It is important to present your preferences of career choice before your parents, teachers and well-wishers. You need to make plans and set a goal which is realistic for yourself considering your capabilities and interest.

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upadhyaypratiksha20@gmail.com

Both boys and girls should be treated equally. In the socialisation process, gender based stereotypes dictate certain kinds of behaviour and practices which are prevalent in society.  Qualities like bravery, shyness, weakness and strength are not ‘male’ or ‘female’. Qualities don’t have a gender. A woman can be strong, a man can be shy. Society promotes certain notions about masculine or feminine qualities. These messages are present in many things around us, in the songs we hear, the movies we watch, the games we play, the books we read. Family members, neighbours and even friends can give us these messages about how girls and boys should behave. For example, a boy who is crying is likely to hear ‘boys don’t cry’ from family as well as friends. These ideas are called gender stereotypes and are reinforced by socialization. There is a need to change mindsets to respect women in the society. The attitude towards women needs to be altered only then we can expect gender equality in the real sense of the word. 

 

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vaishnu28@gmail.com

Everyone matures and goes through changes in adolescence. All changes related to adolescence (physical, emotional, psycho-social and cognitive) do not take place at the same time and in the same way for everyone. Some people mature early, others later.. As a result, it is possible that physical changes may take place early, but psycho-social changes take place later in the same individual. It may also happen the other way around. Two adolescents of the same age may have different levels of maturity, experiencing changes at varying pace. You are advised to do regular exercise and take nutritious food including green vegetables. 

Email (Question Box): 
sudeekshanegi@yahoo.in

Keeping your body clean is an important part of keeping healthy and helping you to feel good about yourself. Caring about the way you look is important to your self-esteem. With a clean body, clean hair, clean clothes and shoes, you will feel good and your friends will be happy to be in your company.  Also, genitals should be treated like any other part of the body and should be cleaned daily.

 

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maimunaid12@gmail.com

You need to make plans and set a goal which is realistic for yourself and as per your capability.  Try and give importance to yourself and feel good about what you do. Utilise your positive traits in a productive way. Identify the factors which distract you from the study. You will be able to avoid the distraction once you become aware of it.  You can consult your parents, teachers, or any other person you rely on and discuss this issue with them for advice. It is important to recognize that nobody can be good at everything. It is also important to appreciate the good qualities in others and learn from them. 

 

Email (Question Box): 
vedant.tiwari.2409@gmail.com

In Indian society, parents and teachers usually have high expectations from their children and students only in academic performance. This is normally so because they feel that academic excellence alone can enable young people live a good life while love and other relationships in adolescents will distract them from achieving their goal. When they find that their ward is deviating from academics, they get concerned and often times resort to punishing them either verbally or physically.  While parents perceive punishment as the only way of bringing the child back to focus on academic performance, adolescents feel hurt and disappointed. Many of them may even get discouraged and take an even lesser interest in academia and life. Adolescents and their parents and teachers should interact more so that they appreciate one another’s concerns and understand each other better. 

Email (Question Box): 
danishsumo@gmail.com

Getting attracted to the opposite sex in adolescence is a normal and natural phenomenon. The female hormone, oestrogen is mainly responsible for the changes in the females while the male hormone testosterone is mainly responsible for the changes in the males. All these changes are highly correlated with sexual development, as during adolescence significant physical changes take place in terms of development of secondary sexual characteristics. Adolescent does want to find out more about the opposite sex which is perfectly healthy and normal. Although you may feel hesitant, you should talk to your parents or to a matured person about any queries you might have. Do not be embarrassed, as everyone; including the elders around you have gone through a similar phase. The more information you collect on sex from authentic sources, the less mysterious the subject will seem to you.

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komalakumarit.rajan@gmail.com

Being attracted to the opposite sex and wanting to find out more about them are perfectly healthy and normal for any person in the adolescence age. Boys and girls can be friends and enable one another to improve upon themselves. There can also be feelings of attraction between girls and boys. However, feelings cannot be imposed on anyone. Trust, mutual respect and honesty are the core elements of friendship.  In any relationship, it is important to assess our feelings and communicate them honestly. Self-confidence and assertiveness are essential for maintaining positive relationships. Good friends enable us to discover our strengths, identify our weaknesses and help us to overcome them.  In most situations, feelings should be recognised rather than pretending they do not exist. Repressing feelings or pretending they do not exist can lead to frustration, anger and/or depression. At the same time, over-indulgence in feelings is also unhealthy, and can create many serious problems in life. We need to learn how to handle our feelings in a balanced way. 

 

Email (Question Box): 
k.shubham84@yahoo.in

As boys and girls grow up they experience rapid physical growth and development that are accompanied by marked psycho-social and emotional changes. Many adolescents get carried away during this stage of growing up and are unable to concentrate and focus on their studies. You need to make plans and set a goal which is realistic for yourself considering your capabilities. Feel good and give importance to yourself. Utilise your positive traits in a productive way. Identify the factors which distract you from the study, try to avoid them. You can consult your parents, teachers, any other person whom you rely on and have a discussion. Inculcate feelings of positivity, feel good about yourself and things will be better for you. It is also important to recognize that nobody can be good at everything. Recognize your qualities and weaknesses further develop your qualities and also focus on taking care of your weaknesses. It is important to appreciate the good qualities in others and learn from them. You are the best judge and best planner for yourself. You have to help yourself to find out how you can utilize your time for an optimum balance of fun and work.

 

Email (Question Box): 
padmavathisplr@gmail.com

Physical attraction to the opposite sex is a part of growing up. It is natural and normal. Friendships are gender neutral relationships. Trust, mutual respect and honesty are the core elements of meaningful and positive friendships.  In any relationship, it is important to assess our feelings and communicate them honestly. Self-confidence and assertiveness are essential for maintaining positive relationships. However, over-indulgence in feelings is also unhealthy, and can create many serious problems in life. Good friends enable us to discover our strengths, identify our weaknesses and help us to overcome them.  In most situations, feelings should be recognised rather than pretending they do not exist. Repressing feelings or pretending they do not exist can lead to frustration, anger and/or depression. It is also important to remember that feelings cannot be imposed on anyone. One should be willing to express one’s feelings sincerely. However, the other person is free to respond based on his/ her feelings. We need to learn how to handle our feelings in a balanced way. However, as a young person, you may also explore interests and activities such as sports, fine arts, social service and hobbies that will develop one’s overall personality and strike a healthy balance in life.

 

Email (Question Box): 
shanmugapriyasureshviji@gmail.com

Everyone matures and goes through the changes in adolescence; this does not take place at the same time and in the same way for everyone. Physical changes take place in all boys and girls. Breast development is one of the first signs of puberty among girls. In boys too the breast develops. Sometimes the breast can become prominent; however, this eventually will subside on its own. However, if there is an unusual enlargement of the male breast, it is advisable to consult a doctor.  

Email (Question Box): 
kamaljhanu@gmail.com

As we grow we experience many changes in our life. Growth and maturation are a continuous process and adolescence is a stage in the continuum of growth and development across the life span. Everyone matures and goes through the changes in adolescence; this does not take place at the same time and in the same way for everyone. Physical changes take place in all boys and girls, but they start at different times.  Two adolescents of the same age may have different levels of maturity, experiencing changes at varying pace.  Physical changes in girls include growth of breasts, rounding of hips due to fat deposition, the growth of pubic hair and starting of menstruation, commonly known as periods. A boy’s voice gets deeper, his muscles develop and his chest gets broader.  Hair starts to grow under his arms and on his legs and face.  During this time, his reproductive organs will also grow. Boys will start to have erections and may have wet dreams or nocturnal emissions.

Email (Question Box): 
kaushikkaushik11@gmail.com

Attraction and romantic feelings are a normal part of adolescence growing up. Love and relationships are gender neutral relations. In any relationship trust, mutual respect and honesty are core elements. It is important to assess the feelings and communicate them honestly. Self-confidence and assertiveness are essential for maintaining positive relationships. Good friends enable us to discover our strengths, identify our weaknesses and help us to overcome them.  In most situations, feelings should be recognised rather than pretending they do not exist. Repressing feelings or pretending they do not exist can lead to frustration, anger and/or depression. It is also important to remember that feelings cannot be imposed on anyone. One should be willing to express one’s feelings sincerely. However, the other person is free to respond based on his/ her feelings. At the same time, over-indulgence in feelings is also unhealthy, and can create many serious problems in life. We need to learn how to handle our feelings in a balanced way. However, as a young person, you may also explore interests and activities such as sports, fine arts, social service and hobbies that will develop one’s overall personality and strike a healthy balance in life.

 

Email (Question Box): 
gopika123nn@gmail.com

During adolescence, we experience a range of emotions from positive to negative, for example happiness, enthusiasm, satisfaction, sadness, anger, frustration etc. It is normal to feel both positive and negative emotions and it is important to be aware of one’s feelings and emotions. Our body releases adrenaline hormone that is usually released as a physical response to stress. Positive ways of handling stress can help harness the additional adrenaline. It is necessary to express these emotions but there are both positive and negative ways of expression. Positive (healthy) ways of responding to stressful situations help decrease the negative emotion(s) and may also help in analysing the situation, understanding its causes and perhaps avoiding it in future or coping with it better. Each person is unique and has different capabilities that should be valued. Hence, every individual should determine their own threshold limits and not stress themselves beyond it in situations including studies, sports, work or any other activity. At the same time, it is important for each of us to try to perform to the best of our abilities.

Email (Question Box): 
srirsy@gmail.com

During the process of growing up, certain hormonal changes occur. The female hormone, oestrogen is mainly responsible for the changes in females while the male hormone testosterone is mainly responsible for the changes in males. It is a proven fact that masturbation is neither unhealthy nor dangerous. It is completely normal and natural, nothing to be frightened, guilty or embarrassed about.However, as a young person, it is also important to explore interests and activities such as sports, fine arts, social service that will develop one’s overall personality and strike a healthy balance in life.​

Email (Question Box): 
adikocharadi@gmail.com

You are going through the adolescence phase where physical, mental and emotional changes occur naturally. . These changes occur in all adolescents though at different pace and timing.  It is a proven fact that masturbation is neither unhealthy nor dangerous. The loss of semen through a wet dream or masturbation does not lead to weakness. The sperms and the semen are replenished in the body regularly. However, as a young person, it is important to explore interests and activities such as sports, fine arts, social service that will develop one’s overall personality and strike a healthy balance in life. 

Email (Question Box): 
mridulgoyal1997@gmail.com

As boys and girls grow up, they experience rapid physical growth and development that are accompanied by marked psycho-social and emotional changes. They start getting concerned about their appearance and develop a physical attraction and curiosity about sexual matters. They become inclined to try out new ideas. This is an age of experimentation and learning new things. They start extending their relationships beyond family and make a special place for peers. They develop a strong sense of selfhood and have their own views and feelings about various issues that may not always be in agreement with their parents/ elders.  Many adolescents get carried away during this stage of growing up and are unable to concentrate and focus on their studies.   

Email (Question Box): 
kirubaspy@gmail.com

During the onset of puberty, the male testes continuously produce sperms generating billions in the course of an adult’s lifetime. The sperms and the semen are replenished in the body regularly.

Email (Question Box): 
amarendrasamanta98@gmail.com

Hesitation or unwillingness on the part of teachers in teaching reproduction and sex organs in humans during classroom transaction may be due to lack of training or their socialisation process.   This being a sensitive topic, the teacher is being cautious and does not directly talk about it. Based on the level of maturity of the learners, the teacher should introduce the topic by organising question box activity. The teacher should encourage the learners to put questions into the box. Quite often a participatory approach in responding is also useful by asking learners who think they know the answers respond to them Teachers should be open to their students about the topic and develop a rapport with them that would help create a comfort level enabling them to enquire further and get the accurate and age appropriate information. The experience of AEP shows that teachers who have been trained are better able and comfortable talking about these issues. 

Email (Question Box): 
ghjkjkl2@gmail.com

Attraction and romantic feelings are a normal part of growing up. Boys and girls can be friends and can also feel attracted towards one another.  Whatever be the relationship, it is important to assess one's feelings and communicate them honestly. However, feelings cannot be imposed on anyone. The other person is free to respond based on his/ her feelings. Repressing feelings or pretending they do not exist can give rise to chronic frustration, anger and/or depression. At the same time, over-indulgence in feelings is also unhealthy, and can create many serious problems in life. We need to learn how to handle our feelings in a balanced way.

Email (Question Box): 
amrit.mohapatra@yahoo.com

While it is challenging to watch adolescents grow up, it is critical for their well-being and for a healthy relationship with them, to respect their independence during these years.  They develop a strong sense of selfhood and have their own views and feelings about various issues that may not always be in agreement with their parents and are termed ‘problematic’. It is important for us as adults to understand the changes occurring in them during the process of growing up. During adolescence, they experience a range of positive to negative emotions - happiness, enthusiasm, satisfaction, sadness, anger, frustration etc. While these years could be a source of frustration and exasperation, they also bring moments of joy, pride and closeness.

As adults, we need to empower adolescents to develop positive (healthy) ways of responding to stressful situations and help them to reduce negative emotion(s). Parents will find it valuable if they interact with their adolescent children as equals, listen to them, respect their opinions, trust them and provide the rationale for their suggestions rather than talking them down. Communicating with them may help them analyse situations, understand its causes and help them cope with issues better. 

Email (Question Box): 
chetan.parmanik@gmail.com

Please do not get disheartened. Maintaining a diary is a very good activity. Self-confidence and assertiveness are essential for one’s development.  Well wishers enable us to discover our strengths, identify weaknesses and help to overcome them.  Externally determined standards/ comments should not negatively affect your confidence. The more you write, your hand writing and writing skills would improve. Make a conscious effort to write legibly and have confidence in you work. 

Email (Question Box): 
prafullckp@gmail.com

This is a time to refresh and rejuvenate yourself before you get into serious academic work in your new class. As a young person, you are advised to explore interests and activities such as sports, fine arts, social service that will help develop your overall personality and strike a healthy balance in life. Try to read books, share quality time with people around you, visit places of historical importance. You may also share your feelings with your peer groups, travel together, discuss work and career and do creative activities and have fun. Try to keep a healthy balance in life. 

Email (Question Box): 
vedant.tiwari.2409@gmail.com

Yours is not an exceptional problem. Almost all individuals undergo a phase similar to the one you are experiencing.  Start discussing topics on different issues with your friends, teachers and family members. Try gradually to start volunteering your name to participate in activities like debates and discussions in school.  This will help build your confidence. You can also do mock practice at home by reading aloud a lesson or a topic taught in class  Continuous practice will help you hone your speaking skills and you could become a good public speaker.

Email (Question Box): 
aditimukund@hotmail.com

The Adolescence Education Programme (AEP) is an educational response to the needs, concerns and realities of adolescents in India. It incorporates all the critical concerns of adolescent reproductive and sexual health (ARSH) in the specific context of Indian socio-cultural ethos. Case studies and activities enable you develop life skills so that you can deal responsibly even in risky situations.

Email (Question Box): 
sudeekshanegi@yahoo.in

Growth and maturation is a continuous process and adolescence is a stage in the continuum of growth and development across the life span. As one grows one experiences many changes in our life, some of which are predictable. Adolescents need to be prepared for the physical, mental, emotional and psychosocial changes that take place during the adolescence phase so that they are not anxious about them and respond to these changes in positive and responsible ways. This also helps them to mould their personality.  Recognising that changes during adolescence occur at different pace and timings in different individuals will help them develop a positive acceptance of self.  

Email (Question Box): 
ishatyagi2000@yahoo.in

Both men and women should be treated equally in society. In the socialisation process gender based stereotypes dictate certain practices prevalent in society.Qualities like bravery, shyness, weakness and strength are not ‘male’ or ‘female’ and don’t have any gender. For example, a woman can be strong and a man can be shy. Gender is a concept made by society, teaching us how men and women should behave and how they are expected to act within that society. The way girls and boys are socialised to be masculine or feminine is called gendering. These are manifest all around us, in the songs we hear, the movies we watch, the games we play, the books we read. For example, ‘boys don’t cry’; ‘woman is the real homemaker’; ‘girls are gentle’ ‘men should be the wage earners of a family’. Recognising that gender is socially constructed and that gender-based behaviour is learned helps us to understand that such behaviour can be changed. There is a need to change the mindsets to respect women in the society. The attitude towards women needs to be altered only then we can expect gender equality in the real sense of the word. 

Email (Question Box): 
nehapmithram@gmail.com

School is a place where a student is exposed to a formal curriculum and interacts with fellow students and teachers that to a large extent mould his/her behaviour and personality. Teachers, through training and experience, are great influencers on students. While all teachers in schools are responsible for one or the other scholastic subjects, teachers trained in AEP are additionally responsible for transacting activities designed in the programme that relate to critical needs of the adolescence period and the concerns of adolescents and youth. A number of contents in AEP are sensitive as they pertain to sex and sexuality, hence prone to misinterpretation. Trained nodal teachers are thus equipped to deal with these issues in a much better and comprehensive manner. 

Email (Question Box): 
goutamvimal@gmail.com

The Adolescence Education Programme (AEP) is an important initiative that aims to empower young people with accurate, age-appropriate and culturally relevant information, promote healthy attitudes and develop skills to enable them to respond to real life situations in positive and responsible ways. AEP interventions focus on the acquisition of authentic knowledge, development of positive attitudes, and empowerment for appropriate action, including the avoidance of risky behavior among young adolescents.

Email (Question Box): 
nowalpooja@gmail.com

During adolescence, we experience a range of emotions from positive to negative, for example happiness, enthusiasm, satisfaction, sadness, anger, frustration etc. As we have high expectations from ourselves that are further reinforced by people around us, there are many occasions to get stressed, feel angry or frustrated. It is normal to feel both positive and negative emotions and it is important to be aware of one’s feelings and emotions. Although one should not bottle up one’s emotions but there are both positive and negative ways of expression. Positive (healthy) ways of responding to stressful situations help decrease the negative emotion(s) and may also help us in analysing the situation, understanding its causes and perhaps avoiding it in future or coping with it better. Adrenaline hormone is usually released in our body as a physical response to stress. Positive ways of handling stress can help harness the additional adrenaline. Each person is unique and has different capabilities that should be valued. Hence, every individual should determine their own threshold limits and not stress themselves beyond it in situations including studies, sports, work or any other activity. At the same time, it is important for each of us to try to perform to the best of our abilities.

 

 

Email (Question Box): 
gkhere@ymail.com

Actually both boys and girls should be treated equally. In the socialisation process gender based stereotypes dictate certain kind of behaviour and practices which are prevalent in society.  Qualities like bravery, shyness, weakness and strength are not ‘male’ or ‘female’. Qualities don’t have a gender. A woman can be strong, a man can be shy. Society promotes certain notions about masculine or feminine qualities. These messages are present in many things around us, in the songs we hear, the movies we watch, the games we play, the books we read. Family members, neighbours and even friends can give us these messages about how girls and boys should behave. For example, a boy who is crying is likely to hear ‘boys don’t cry’ from family as well as friends. These ideas are called gender stereotypes and are reinforced by socialization. There is a need to change mind sets to respect women in the society. The attitude towards women needs to be altered only then we can expect gender equality in the real sense of the word. 

Email (Question Box): 
sisookvpattom@gmail.com

As a student you have the right to accurate, age appropriate and scientific information about physical, psychological, and sexual development. Research from all over the world has shown that knowing about these issues and discussing them enables young people to better understand their experiences and clarify many myths and misconceptions. Hence, they make more responsible decisions.

 

Email (Question Box): 
gkishansir@gmail.com

Biologically only girls/ women can get periods. Menstrual periods are a natural change during adolescence and signify that the girl is attaining reproductive maturity and can become pregnant. Having menstrual periods is symbolic of a woman’s ability to reproduce which need to be universally respected. Menstruation is a normal, healthy process. Physical maturity or puberty in girls occurs when she starts ovulating, that is, an ovum (egg) ripens and is released from her ovaries every month. After a few days (approximately 14 days) of ovulation, the ovum flows out of the body along with some blood. This is menstruation. It is more important to maintain good genital hygiene. 

 

Email (Question Box): 
vaishnavibalureddy@gmail.com

Through this question, you want to know the importance of fairness of skin. The size, shape, colour of skin, height and some other characteristics of the body are mainly determined by heredity conditions and natural environment. The formation of the body image is influenced by the socio cultural factors. But we need not suffer from inferiority complex because of our looks.

 

It is important to develop a positive acceptance of oneself.  You should have strong self esteem to celebrate your uniqueness rather than be forced to mimic certain images perpetuated by society and media. Externally determined standards should not negatively affect your confidence and self-image.

Email (Question Box): 
khanehsan04@gmail.com

Marriage is not compulsory; it’s one’s personal matter to decide in life. 

Email (Question Box): 
nidhir1989@gmail.com

Boys and girls can be friends who are well wishers and enable one another to improve upon themselves. There can also be feelings of attraction between girls and boys. However, feelings cannot be imposed on anyone. As an adolescent, one could express his/her feelings respectfully and sincerely to the person you would like to become friends with. However, the other person is free to respond based on his/ her feelings.

Email (Question Box): 
hkhichi2012@gmail.com

Attraction and romantic feelings are a part of normal part of adolescence growing up. Love and relationships are gender neutral relations. In any relationship trust, mutual respect and honesty are the core elements. It is important to assess the feelings and communicate them honestly. Self-confidence and assertiveness are essential for maintaining positive relationships. Good friends enable us to discover our strengths, identify our weaknesses and help us to overcome them.  In most situations, feelings should be recognised rather than pretending they do not exist. Repressing feelings or pretending they do not exist can lead to frustration, anger and/or depression. It is also important to remember that feelings cannot be imposed on anyone. One should be willing to express one’s feelings sincerely. However, the other person is free to respond based on his/ her feelings. At the same time, over-indulgence in feelings is also unhealthy, and can create many serious problems in life. We need to learn how to handle our feelings in a balanced way. 

 

Email (Question Box): 
arundhathi.nair@yahoo.co.in

You need to make plans and set a goal which is realistic for yourself considering your capabilities. Feel good and give importance to yourself. Utilise your positive traits in a productive way. Identify the factors which distract you from study, try to avoid them. You can consult your parents, teachers, any other person whom you rely on and have a discussion. Inculcate feelings of positivity, feel good about yourself and things will be better for you. It is also important to recognize that nobody can be good at everything. Recognize your qualities and weaknesses further develop your qualities and also focus on taking care of your weaknesses. It is important to appreciate the good qualities in others and learn from them. 

Email (Question Box): 
sagarnilmj@gmail.com

As one reaches adolescence, different aspects of one's identity gain prominence, including sexual identity. It is also natural to be curious about issues related to sex as authentic and accurate information on the subject is not always easily available. Although you may feel hesitant, you could talk to an elder and mature person about any queries you might have. Do not be embarrassed, as everyone around you, including your elders has gone through a similar phase. The more information you collect on sex from authentic source, the less mysterious the subject will seem to you. Cheap literature, information from peers or pornography may not have the accurate answers that will satisfy your curiosity. Also, identifying some other areas of interest will be helpful in developing other aspects of your personality. Make friends with people who are your well wishers. Identify a role model and if possible, try to find out how this person lived through their adolescence and youth. It may inspire you!

Email (Question Box): 
aeparc2014@gmail.com

It is a physical response to emotions. This physical response includes physiological arousal.  The brain sends signals to the adrenal gland, which secretes hormones such as adrenaline. The flow of hormones through the blood causes the heart to beat faster and stronger. Getting attracted to opposite sex in adolescence is a normal and natural phenomenon. 

 

Email (Question Box): 
aeparc2014@gmail.com

It is a proven fact that masturbation is neither unhealthy nor dangerous. The loss of semen through a wet dream or masturbation does not lead to weakness. The sperms and the semen are replenished in the body regularly. There is scientific evidence that physical manipulation is not harmful, therefore one should not feel guilty about it. As a young person, it is also important to explore interests and activities such as sports, fine arts, social service that will develop one’s overall personality and strike a healthy balance in life.

Email (Question Box): 
aeparc2014@gmail.com

Friendship cannot be imposed on anyone. You could express your feelings respectfully and sincerely to the person you would like to become friends with. However, the other person is free to respond based on his/ her feelings.

Email (Question Box): 
sauravbhaskarsharma@gmail.com

Friendships are gender neutral relationships. Rather than defining friendships by the sex of the friend, trust, mutual respect and honesty are the core elements of meaningful and positive friendships.  In any relationship, it is important to assess our feelings and communicate them honestly. Self-confidence and assertiveness are essential for maintaining positive relationships. Good friends enable us to discover our strengths, identify our weaknesses and help us to overcome them.  In most situations, feelings should be recognised rather than pretending they do not exist. Repressing feelings or pretending they do not exist can lead to frustration, anger and/or depression. At the same time, over-indulgence in feelings is also unhealthy, and can create many serious problems in life. We need to learn how to handle our feelings in a balanced way. 

Email (Question Box): 
aeparc2014@gmail.com

No term like ‘excess sperm production’ has been mentioned in the literature. During the onset of puberty, the testes continuously produce sperms generating billions in the course of an adult life time.  The sperms and the semen are replenished in the body regularly.

 

Email (Question Box): 
aeparc2014@gmail.com

It is more important for you to understand that there is no sex education introduced in the education sector. However, there is sufficient scientific evidence from both within and outside India to suggest that given the rapid pace of changes within adolescents and the changing societal expectations from them, adolescents need information and skills to make informed and responsible choices in different dimensions of their lives. Anchored in a rights perspective, Adolescence Education Programme is an educational intervention introduced in the school curriculum from upper primary stage with the aim of providing age and experience appropriate accurate information and inculcating life skills among young people that enable them to navigate real life situations effectively. While life skills are relevant for everyone, they are especially relevant to adolescents as they are developing a sense of identity in an environment that bombards them with numerous and often contradictory stimuli with very few reliable resources that they could seek clarifications from.

The themes addressed in the programme include:

  • Understanding changes during adolescence and being comfortable with them
  • Establishing and maintaining positive and responsible relationships
  • Understanding and challenging stereotypes and discrimination related to gender and sexuality
  • Understanding and reporting abuse and violation
  • HIV/AIDS: prevention, vulnerability, dealing with stigma, access to services, linkages with RTIs/STIs
  • Prevention of substance abuse: causes, access to safety net, consequences, de-addiction, care and support.

The Adolescence Education Programme (AEP) is an important initiative that aims to empower young people with accurate, age appropriate and culturally relevant information, promote healthy attitudes and develop skills to enable them to respond to real life situations in positive and responsible ways. The program focuses on enhancing life skills to enable young people to tackle real life situations effectively.

 

Email (Question Box): 
aeparc2014@gmail.com

Friendships are gender neutral relationships. Rather than defining friendships by the sex of the friend, trust, mutual respect and honesty are the core elements of meaningful and positive friendships.  In any relationship, it is important to assess our feelings and communicate them honestly. Self-confidence and assertiveness are essential for maintaining positive relationships. Good friends enable us to discover our strengths, identify our weaknesses and help us to overcome them.  In most situations, feelings should be recognised rather than pretending they do not exist. Repressing feelings or pretending they do not exist can lead to frustration, anger and/or depression. At the same time, over-indulgence in feelings is also unhealthy, and can create many serious problems in life. We need to learn how to handle our feelings in a balanced way. 

Email (Question Box): 
aeparc2014@gmail.com

There is sufficient scientific evidence from both within and outside India to suggest that given the rapid pace of changes within adolescents and the changing societal expectations from them, adolescents need information and skills to make informed and responsible choices in different dimensions of their lives. Anchored in a rights perspective, Adolescence Education Programme is an educational intervention introduced in the school curriculum from upper primary stage with the aim of providing age and experience appropriate accurate information and inculcating life skills among young people that enable them to navigate real life situations effectively. While life skills are relevant for everyone, they are especially relevant to adolescents as they are developing a sense of identity in an environment that bombards them with numerous and often contradictory stimuli with very few reliable resources that they could seek clarifications from.

The themes addressed in the programme include:

  • Understanding changes during adolescence and being comfortable with them
  • Establishing and maintaining positive and responsible relationships
  • Understanding and challenging stereotypes and discrimination related to gender and sexuality
  • Understanding and reporting abuse and violation
  • HIV/AIDS: prevention, vulnerability, dealing with stigma, access to services, linkages with RTIs/STIs
  • Prevention of substance abuse: causes, access to safety net, consequences, de-addiction, care and support.
Email (Question Box): 
aeparc2014@gmail.com

Using social media web sites is among the most common activity of today's children and adolescents. To channelise the energy among adolescents one can:

 

  • Enhance individual and collective creativity through development and sharing of artistic and musical endeavours including sports, music and dance etc;
  • Provide opportunities for community engagement for charity and volunteering for local events, including philanthropic events, e.g. one can teach the poor students.

·                 Keep the computer in a public part of your home, such as the drawing room, so that you can check on what your kids are doing online and how much time they are spending there.

·                 Parents also need to pay attention to the online trends and the latest technologies, websites and applications children are using,

·                 For all ages, emphasize that everything sent over the internet or a cell phone can be shared with the entire world, so it is important they use good judgment in sending messages and pictures appropriately.

·                 Talk to the children, develop time management plan with them and monitor their online social media use. 

Email (Question Box): 
aeparc2014@gmail.com

New life occurs when male (sperm) and female gametes, which is sex cells (ovum) unite at conception. At the time of conception the genes and chromosomes from the mother and father unite to form a unique individual with particular traits and characteristics. All cells in human body contain 2x23=46 chromosomes. The sperm contains 23 chromosomes and so does the ovum. One of the 23 chromosomes is a sex chromo-some which is named as X or Y chromo-some. The sperms have both X and Y chromosomes but the ova have only X chromosomes. The sex of the baby is determined by the way the ovum is fertilized. If the ovum is fertilized by the Y chromosome of the sperm, a male baby will be born. But if the ovum is fertilized by the sperm containing X chromosome, a female baby will be born. The determination of the sex of the baby, therefore, is dependent on the male sperm and not on the female ovum or egg. It is important to note that chromosomes and not women determine the sex of the child.

Email (Question Box): 
aeparc2014@gmail.com

Menstruation is a completely normal phenomenon and signifies that a girl is becoming a woman and can become pregnant. Having menstrual periods is symbolic of a woman’s ability to reproduce which should be universally respected. Menstrual blood is clean blood which would have supported the foetus. Menstruation is a normal, healthy process. Physical maturity or puberty in girls occurs when she starts ovulating, that is, an ovum (egg) ripens and is released from her ovaries every month. After a few days (approximately 14 days) of ovulation, the ovum flows out of the body along with some blood. This is menstruation. Menstruation is something that girls and women need to care about and manage well. Ideally all schools and workplaces should keep sanitary napkins because girls cannot always predict when their periods will come. Access to toilets with clean water is also a basic facility that girls’ schools and all workplaces should have. Importantly, for both girls and boys genitals should be treated like any other part of the body.

Email (Question Box): 
aeparc2014@gmail.com

Yours is not an exceptional problem. Almost all adolescents undergo a phase similar to the one you are experiencing. Parents and teachers usually have high expectations in academia from their children and students. This is usually because they feel that excellent academic performance alone can enable young people to live a good life. If they feel that the young person is deviating from the path of academic excellence, they get concerned and often times resort to punishment either verbal or physical.  They perceive that punishment is the only way of bringing the child back on track. On the other hand punishments make children feel hurt and disappointed. Many of them get discouraged and take even lesser interest in academia. Parents/ Teachers should make efforts and enable adolescents to discover their interest and motivate them to pursue it to the best of their abilities. You must try to understand that they may have a point of view in your interest based on their understanding of your situation. It may be helpful to share your views on academic achievement and any challenges that you are facing with them in a peaceful manner. 

 

Email (Question Box): 
ashishkumardalai9@gmail.com

It is essential that you take a logical and scientific approach towards stream selection after your 10th examination. It is important to know what you are interested in and what the possible career paths that you are considering are. Most students suffer from under performance, de-motivation or loss of interest only because they get in to a stream that they are not interested in. Too many young people feel pressured into making a choice before they are really sure of what they want to do later in their lives. There are various factors that contribute towards a successful career. One of the first considerations is a realistic and informed subject choice. Analyse your strengths and weaknesses in a particular subject. You need to gather as much information required in a particular stream, talk to teachers and experts in that area and take a sensible decision for a particular stream you are considering. It may be a good idea to talk to some of your role models you are now working in the area of your choice to better understand the realities of the choices that you are considering.

Based on relevant facts, have a dialogue with your parents and communicate your viewpoint assertively. Once your parents are convinced that you are taking an informed decision, it is unlikely that they will pressurize you doing something that you do not believe in. It is also important to recognize and communicate that there are a wide range of career choices available today. One only needs to be good at one’s job.

 

Email (Question Box): 
aeparc2014@gmail.com

Getting attracted to opposite sex in adolescence is a normal and natural developmental phenomenon. However, looking at others differently; passing abusive words and teasing are a violation of a one’s basic right to live in dignity. This is a punishable offence in India. Girls/ women have always been subject to such behaviour and the trend unfortunately, continues even today. These abuses have many forms: physical, emotional, sexual, and exploitation and such abuses need to be immediately reported to school authorities as well as parents. There could be possibility of educating people and sensitise them about the grave consequences of abusing others. There is a need of change of mind set and respect women in the society. The attitude towards women needs to be altered only then we can expect gender equality in the real sense of the word. All should prepare their safety net to deal with such situations.

Email (Question Box): 
aeparc2014@gmail.com

Several of the psychiatrists feel that some teenagers are not able to manage the impulse prompted by hormonal changes.  Also the reason like lack of parental care, peer pressure and influence of media and society has affected the children in a negative way. This develops in young people low self-esteem and they go through mental trauma which later correlates with delinquent behaviour.

 

To deal with juvenile delinquency, we need to inculcate life skills for responsible behaviour and provide age appropriate and accurate information to children. There is a need of educational intervention to facilitate adolescent behaviour and inculcate values for dealing the challenges in life. In the best interest of the delinquent s/he should be helped/ rehabilitated as early as possible and integrated back in society. Efforts need to be made to instill in them values that can socially uplift them and give them a new found confidence so that they can play a constructive role for themselves, for their family and society.

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Adolescence is generally defined with reference to a period of years. World Health Organization (WHO) defines individuals in the age group 10-19 as adolescents. But adolescence may not be seen only in association with the precise number of years, as it is contextualized to individuals’ personal experiences that may vary from one socio- cultural setting to another. Also physiologically, there may be individual differences in reaching the same developmental milestones.  Adolescence therefore may appropriately be defined as the period of physical, psychological and social maturation from childhood to adulthood, the period extending from puberty to the attainment of full reproductive maturity.   India is home to 253 million adolescents; young people in the age group of 10-19 years who comprise 21% of the country’s population (Census, 2011)

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The Adolescence Education Programme (AEP) is an important initiative that aims to empower young people with accurate, age appropriate and culturally relevant information. This programme promotes healthy attitudes and develops skills by organising school-based activities which enable them to respond to real life situations in positive and responsible ways. AEP was launched by Ministry of Human Resource Development, Govt. of India in 2005. At present AEP is being coordinated by National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and implemented by national agencies, including Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS), Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS) and National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS). AEP is also being implemented by States and Union Territories through State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERTs) under National Population Education Project (NPEP) of NCERT. AEP is also being implemented by States and Union Territories thorough SCERTs and State boards with support of State AIDS Control Society (SACS). 

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Yoga contributes to the physical, social, emotional and mental aspects of an individuals’ development. Yoga has a positive impact on psycho-social and mental wellbeing. Yogic practice contributes to the overall development of the child and various studies have shown that it contributes to flexibility and muscular fitness and also corrects postural defects among school children. In addition it plays an important role in improving cardio-vascular efficiency and helps to control and reduce excessive body fat while contributing to the overall physical and health related fitness. Apart from contributing to physical fitness, yoga also contributes to improving learning, memory and dealing with stress and anxieties (Position paper on Health and Physical Education NCERT).

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There is a lot of confusion due to the recent controversy on ‘Sex Education’ in the media and public discussions.  Adolescence Education Programme is wider educational intervention focusing on critical elements related process of growing up, drug abuse and HIV. It aims to enable young people to deal effectively with issues related to:

  • Changes during adolescence and being comfortable with them
  • Establishing and maintaining positive and responsible relationships.
  • Understanding and challenging stereotypes and discrimination related to gender and sexuality
  • Understanding and reporting abuse and violation
  • HIV/AIDS: prevention, vulnerability, dealing with stigma, access to services, linkages with RTIs/STIs
  • Prevention of substance abuse: causes, access to safety net, consequences, de-addiction, care and support.

 

The ultimate aim is to provide age and experience appropriate and accurate information to the young adolescents and inculcate life skills among them to take informed and responsible decisions in their lives. There is a need to generate awareness and accurate understanding about the rationale and scope of the of adolescence education among teachers, principals, parents and other stakeholders in the country. 

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I think you wish to know about Master Teachers Training programme under AEP. We have recently (April- May 2014) completed the Master Training programme on AEP in five different venues across India. The next round of National level Master Teachers Training programme will be decided at the time of planning for the next academic session 2015-16. Please keep visiting www.aeparc.org for regular updates.

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If you wish to know about scholarship programmes under AEP, then there is no scholarship programme available at present. Currently, several competitions such as poster making, role play and folk dance events on themes related to adolescence education are organized every year at school, regional and at national levels through State Boards of Education and State Council of Educational Research and Training under the National Population Education Project. 

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I think you want to know the role of Resource Persons in Adolescence Education Programme (AEP). In AEP, Resource Persons are individuals who have received an in-depth orientation to the programme at the national level and are entrusted with the responsibility of further orienting school teachers to respond to concerns of adolescents effectively. These are faculty members of the two schooling systems, KVS and NVS. These individuals are readily available human resources who can contribute towards monitoring the programme, advocating with different stakeholders, such as the school staff, administrators or parents, suggesting innovations for improving the effectiveness of AEP, such as organizing theme-based activities for various stakeholders. Essentially, they are the friends of Adolescence Education programme.

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The teachers can be a male or female. Schools are one of the first places where students’ behaviour and future of a nation is being shaped. Teachers are carriers of inculcating positive behaviour toward students and spend a lot of time with them. It is believed that a real teacher becomes through many years of training and experiences and become experts in the teaching field. The NCF 2005 defines ‘roles of teacher as encouraging, supportive and humane facilitator in teaching-learning situations to enable learners to discover their talents, realise their physical and intellectual potentialities to the fullest, and to develop character and desirable social and human values to function as responsible citizens; and  active member of a group of persons who makes a conscious effort for curricular renewal so that it is relevant to changing societal needs and the personal needs of learners.’ Everything the teacher says will have an impact on the students and are responsible for the social behaviour in the classroom and society. This may be reasons that teachers considered more responsible for implementing educational interventions.

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The Adolescence Education Programme (AEP) is an important initiative that aims to empower young people with accurate, age appropriate and culturally relevant information, promote healthy attitudes and develop skills to enable them to respond to real life situations in positive and responsible ways. The program focuses on enhancing life skills to enable young people to tackle real-life situations effectively.

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Most of the addicts start smoking out of curiosity or to have some pleasure, often under the influence of their friends and peer groups. Young people smoke/ take drugs commonly due to peer pressure, temptation to look and behave like an adult, out of a spirit of rebellion or a spirit of misconceived adventure. Young people are also influenced by adults around them who smoke.

Of course, peer pressure can be managed by being aware of the implications of substance misuse and developing skills to manage peer pressure. One can not only save oneself from adopting risky behavior under peer pressure but also persuade the peers not to engage in unhealthy behaviors such as smoking. Young people should also be educated to recognize that a friend is someone who cares, protects and looks after the welfare of their friends rather than coerce them/ initiate them into unhealthy habits. Empowered with adequate information and skills, young people should be able to decide that it is their body, their life and hence, they should be taking well-informed and responsible decisions. As a young person, it is also important to explore interests and activities such as sports, fine arts, social service that will develop one’s overall personality and enable them to strike a healthy balance in life.

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Women are biologically and socially more vulnerable to the HIV infection than men. Male to female transmission is 2-4 times more efficient than female to male. The low status of women in society inhibits their ability to protect themselves from HIV infection. In the prevailing society women have limited access to health services as well as to HIV testing facilities. Low priority to one’s own health, household chores take precedence over seeking health services for women. Society’s discrimination placing low value on women’s health and neglect of women’s health that put them at a higher risk of several diseases and infections, including HIV. Awareness and correct information is needed to decrease the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV and AIDS. It should not be assumed that HIV is transmitted only in certain ‘high risk groups’ (such as sex workers or intravenous drug users). Women from diverse socio-economic backgrounds are being detected with the infection. 

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HIV does not discriminate; it can infect anyone irrespective of class, colour, gender, disability and identity. It should not be assumed that HIV is transmitted only in certain ‘high risk groups’ (such as sex workers or intravenous drug users). Women from average, middle class families and backgrounds are being detected with the infection as well which further emphasises the point, that it is not the groups that are “risky”, but rather the behaviours that people adopt that would put them at risk of infection.

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Sex is biologically determined but gender is a social construct. ‘Male’ and ‘female’ are sex categories. They are basically assigned by nature. ‘Masculine’ and ‘feminine’ are gender categories. They are influenced by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, cultural and historical factors.  Qualities like brave, shy, weak and strong are not ‘male’ or ‘female’. Qualities do not have a gender. A woman can be strong, a man can be shy. Society creates the ideas about which qualities a man should possess and which qualities a woman should possess.
 

No one starts taking substances with the aim of getting addicted to them. Most addicts start using a substance out of curiosity or to experience wrongly assumed pleasure. Some take to substance
misuse, as they wrongly believe that it will help them overcome their boredom, depression, stress and fatigue. Factors which make adolescents vulnerable to serious substance misuse are poor self-esteem, family history of substance misuse, low achievement at school, family instability, history of abuse and aggressive / impulsive personality.

Sexual harassment or sexual abuse is any behaviour of sexual nature perpetrated by one individual on another without his/her consent. Sexual harassment may be verbal or physical, done only once or repeatedly. It can occur between people of different genders or those of the same gender and may occur in a variety of relationships.

An example:

Mohit is ten years old. His uncle often comes over to Mohit’s house and stays over. He brings lots of toffees and biscuits for him. He always insists on sleeping in Mohit’s room. At times he tries to touch Mohit in ways that Mohit does not like. Mohit’s parents notice that Mohit has become very quiet and withdrawn but does not share anything with them.

Substance misuse affects varied aspects of a user’s life and can lead to physical and psychological dependence.  Long term use results in losing control of one’s emotions. It creates problems within the family and results not only in loss of trust but also breakdown in the relationships.

During adolescence, as one attains sexual maturity, these fantasies are a natural part of growing up. However, sexual identity is only one facet of one’s personality and it cannot overshadow all other aspects of an individual’s identity. You should not feel guilty of having these fantasies but at the same time, explore and nurture other aspects of your personality. It may be helpful to have a good routine that gives enough time for everything that you consider important, including your studies and some time for relaxation. It may also comfort you to know that many young people experience these fantasies.

Parents often wish the best for their children and would like them to be happy. However, there is nothing wrong if parents and children have different views on a particular issue. As we grow up, our world view, choices and aspirations can be different from our parents and other family members. It is important to recognize that you have to live with the career choices you make. Hence, you have to be comfortable with the choice you make.

We would recommend that first you think through the reasons you want to make a particular career choice and then share your views with your parents. If you think your parents may not listen to you, you may also consider talking to a friend/ sibling and then the two of you could jointly present the case to your parents. If you think your parents may be more receptive to listening to another adult, please do speak to that person.

However, there are 2 things that are noteworthy:

  • It is important to present your viewpoint
  • There are several young people who face similar dilemmas. As you grow up, you will continue to be in situations where your viewpoint is different from the more dominant ones. It is important to think through your viewpoint and make your voice heard respectfully. Remember, right to dissent is the most important right in a democracy!

Good hobbies are indeed part of a safety net. These hobbies such as mountaineering, reading books, music, helping others or anything else that interests and inspires you can be a good stress buster and can rejuvenate an individual to focus on other responsibilities that s/he may have. Staying connected with friends, colleagues, family and relatives is good. Connecting on face book once a day does not seem to be excessive. Perhaps, you need to take stock of whether you are spending far too much time on face book and neglecting other responsibilities that you have. This is true for any hobby you may have. You need to strike a balance!

  • Schools have a very important role in preventing sexual harassment and abuse. Parent and teacher bodies like the Parent Teacher Associations may be able to establish mechanisms to facilitate reporting of sexual harassment and to support those who complain.
  • Schools should also invest in confidence-building sessions so that students can reach out to school authorities with their complaints.
  • Schools could designate counselors/ teachers to listen to students in privacy on a regular basis should they want to share their experiences.
  • Mechanisms of complaining anonymously may also encourage reporting. Appropriate steps must be taken on the basis of complaints made by students

Yes, healing from child sexual abuse is possible. Impact of child sexual abuse on each child may vary. A timely, proactive and appropriate response that is based on the strengths and resilience of each child in conjunction with the innate ability of the human spirit to prevail, does eventually lead to an optimally lived life. 

With specialized intervention programs, child sex offenders may learn to control their abusive behavior. An important aspect of these programs is acceptance of responsibility by the abusers for their behavior. While these programs are an essential part of the criminal justice system in developed countries, efforts in this direction are still in their nascent stages in India. 

It is not uncommon to feel shock, disbelief, denial, self-blame, anger, confusion and/or doubt, if a child tells you she/he was abused. The following guidelines will help you in addressing the situation:

Believe the child: Children rarely make up stories about sexual abuse. Believing the child is a major step in healing the hurt caused by abuse. Tell the child that it is not her/his fault. 

Remain calm: Children are sensitive to and worry about your feelings. If you respond with anger, the child may feel you are angry with her/him. Children need to feel that they are no different from others because of the abuse. Remaining calm will help children to feel normal.

Affirm the child's feelings: Children must be allowed to voice their feelings and have them affirmed and taken seriously in order to continue the telling and healing process.

Tell the child what will happen next: Children who have been abused lack control or options. They need to know that other people need to be involved to overcome sexual abuse. However, children need to feel participants in this process.

Support the child: Sexually abused children often feel that they are alone, this has happened to no one else, or no one will believe them, and so they need as much positive adult support as possible.  

We need to teach children about Personal Safety. We, as adults, also need to educate ourselves about sexual abuse and the risk factors or warning signs of sexually abusing behaviors. Here are some things that you can do to prevent the sexual abuse of a child you know.

  • Teach children to trust their feelings and that it is OK to say "no" when someone they know and care about does something they do not like.
  • Speak up when "warning sign" behaviors are seen or reported.
  • Get comfortable talking about difficult topics such as sexual abuse and saying the proper names of body parts before teaching them to children.
  • Instruct children the differences between Safe touch and unsafe touch and that secrets about touching are not OK. Children also need to understand that people they know could be capable of doing hurtful things.
  • Encourage affirm and acknowledge a child's opinions and feelings - giving them a sense of self esteem and confidence.
  • Involve your child in setting up a safety plan that is easy to remember.
  • List for yourself and your child whom to call for advice, information, and help. 
  • Have you ever seen someone playing with a child and felt uncomfortable with it? Maybe you thought, "I'm just over-reacting," or, "She/he doesn't really mean that." Don't ignore the behavior; learn how to ask more questions about what you have seen. The checklist below offers some warning signs.
  • Shows undue attention towards a child
  • Insists on hugging, touching, kissing, tickling, wrestling with or holding a child even when the child does not want this affection
  • Is overly interested in the sexuality of a particular child (e.g., talks repeatedly about the child's developing body
  • Constantly maneuvers to get time alone or insists on time alone with a child
  • Spends most of his/her spare time with children and has little interest in spending time with someone their own age
  • Buys children expensive gifts or gives them money for no apparent reason
  • Frequently intrudes a child's privacy, for instance walks in on children in the bathroom
  • Allows children to consistently get away with undisciplined behavior

While a small percentage of children report about abuse when it happens, others may find it very difficult to tell because of a number of fears they hold in their minds that accompany disclosure. Children fear that they will not be believed when they disclose about the abuse, which results in a feeling of helplessness. Furthermore, many people in order to assuage their own feelings of helplessness and discomfort, or through sheer ignorance, tend to believe that children lie and make up stories about abuse. On the contrary, children are almost always speaking the truth when they disclose regarding abuse.

These fears are: 

Fear Of Remembering: Sexually abused children often cope by pushing the experience   far back in their minds as they can, to "forget" and avoid feeling hurt again.

Fear Of Losing Love: Child victims often feel responsible for what happened to them. Because of these feelings, they worry that their parents and friends will stop loving them once they know about the abuse. They also fear the separation from loved ones that could result from their sharing their experiences.

Fear Of Shame & Guilt: Children either know or can sense that their sexual experiences with adults are wrong. Abuse makes most victims feel "dirty". This makes telling someone and acknowledging it occurred shameful. Older children have also been known to suffer more from a sense of guilt than younger children.

Fear Of Being Blamed: Children fear that they will be blamed for any kind of sexual activity and that they were willing partners. People also tend to believe adults more than they would believe children. Offenders often make the excuse that their victims "asked" to   be touched sexually. Children ask for affection and attention, which is their right, and not for sex about which they do not as yet have appropriate context for consent.

Fear Of Further Harm: Offenders often threaten their victims with harm to their families as a means of maintaining control. Victims then carry the burden of keeping their families safe by not telling.

Another very important factor that keeps the children from disclosing is their lack of vocabulary of their private parts and therefore the resulting inability to describe acts of sexual abuse. Children are usually not taught the correct names for the private parts, and are told that "nice girls/boys" don't use those words that refer to private body parts or sexual behavior.

Research at the international level has shown that children with disabilities are 3.4 times more likely to be abused compared with non-disabled children. Other studies have concluded that risk of sexual abuse is doubled when a child is disabled (Child Abuse & Neglect, Feb 2005 & Mar 2004). Considering that almost 12 million children in India are disabled (differently abled), it is alarming to consider the possible prevalence of sexual abuse of disabled children in India. The issue assumes greater significance considering societal denial of child sexual abuse, compounded by the fact that children, especially those with disability, are viewed as "asexual" and hence kept away from any information on sexuality. The myth that disabled children cannot be abused, since abusers find them unattractive and feel sorry for them, is also widely held.

Though all children are vulnerable to abuse, certain factors increase this vulnerability and make some children more at risk of being abused than others. These vulnerability factors include:           

  • Belief that "respect" means unquestioning obedience to authority
  • Lack of appropriate sex education, either by way of vocabulary or boundaries
  • Adult inability to teach children appropriate sexuality due to cultural norms and embarrassment
  • Social norms giving children lower status than adults
  • A child's predisposition to love unconditionally and trust implicitly
  • Desire to please
  • Values stressing family honor
  • Disability
  • Dysfunctional family
  • Low self-esteem of the child
  • Having few friends/ isolated

While child sexual abusers could belong to the categories of either pedophiles or child molesters, there could be a variety of reasons for their abuse of children. Pedophiles are fixated at being sexually attracted to children alone, while child molesters are people who have "normal" sexual relationships with adult partners and at the same time do not have any qualms about having sex with children as well. 

We need to understand that every child is vulnerable to sexual abuse. And as adults, their well-being and safety is our paramount concern and responsibility. However, it is not always possible for adults to ensure a child's safety. It therefore becomes imperative to teach children on how to protect themselves. Besides creating safe spaces for children to talk to us, it is our responsibility as adults to learn, to notice, and to react when we see sexually inappropriate behaviors towards children and teens. Adults need to learn how to respond when we think a child is being sexually abused. 

  • As the boys and girls are growing-they start to develop a personal identity, become more confident.  and do not want to be pursued by elders to do things. During adolescence, young people start extending their relationships beyond family and make a special place for peers. They develop a strong sense of selfhood and have their own views and feelings about various issues that may not always be in agreement with their parents/ elders.    They expect to be treated like adults who can make their own decisions.  There is an increase in the desire to experiment. Curiosity about sexuality related issues increases, become more self-conscious and start taking more care of their looks.

A boy’s voice gets deeper, his muscles develop and his chest gets broader.  Hair starts to grow under his arms and on his legs and face.  During this time his reproductive organs will also grow. Pubic hair, will also start to grow at the base of his penis. He will start to have erections and he may have wet dreams or nocturnal emissions.

  • Boys sometimes feel embarrassed as their voice becomes deeper & may suddenly break into a squeak.  Such cracking of voice is a normal growing up process and this varies in individuals.  All boys voices will eventually settle down and sound deeper (lower pitch).
  • Nocturnal emission is the release of semen from the body during sleep. It is also known as night fall or wet dreams. Although most adolescent boys experience nocturnal emission that at some time, it is not necessary that all should experience this. Nocturnal emission sometimes has a purely physiological basis. It is not necessarily accompanied by sexual feelings or dreams. This starts happening around puberty. It is completely normal and natural, nothing to be frightened, guilty or embarrassed about.
  • There are many myths surrounding menstruation. We shall deal with a few common myths here.
  • You should not have a bath or wash your hair during menstruation     
    • This is not true.  In fact one feels healthier and cleaner if a bath is taken everyday or even twice on warmer days.
  • Menstruation is unclean so a girl should not enter the kitchen or a religious place during her menstrual period.  Also she should not touch pickles at this time.
    • This is not true.  Menstruation is a normal physical process and there is nothing unclean about it. It has no effect on pickles or any other food product.
  • If a girl looks at a boy during her menstrual days, she is likely to become pregnant.
    • Pregnancy cannot happen without unprotected sexual intercourse. 
  • A girl should not participate in games or sports when menstruating.
    • This is not true.  There is no reason why a girl should restrict any activity, as menstruation is a normal process except when she suffers from severe cramps. 
  • In the first two years after menstruation begins, periods may be irregular.  If they continue to be irregular, consult a qualified doctor
  • Scanty flow or too much bleeding may be due to poor nutrition, mental stress or excessive physical activity.  See a qualified doctor if the problem persists.
  • Some girls experience pain during menstruation and may have mood swings, breast pain and even express a desire to have a particular food item.  This is not abnormal at all.  Mild pain may be relieved with fomentation in the lower abdomen or mild exercises.
  • Some girls get severe painful cramps during menstruation.  Consult a physician if the discomfort is unbearable.
  • Girls and women may use sanitary napkins, or cloth
  • A clean sanitary napkin should that should be changed frequently (every four to
  • six hours) to prevent infections
  • If a cloth is used which needs to be reused, it should be washed thoroughly and
  • disinfected by drying in the sun
  • Good genital hygiene is particularly important during periods
  • There is no reason not to bathe or wash hair during periods
  • Physical changes take place in all boys and girls but they start at different times.  Generally the changes start later for boys than girls.  In some people they start before the age of 10.  Other people will only start to change after the age of 14.  The changes also take place at different rates in different people. 
  • Physical changes in girls include growth of breasts, rounding of hips due to fat deposition, growth of pubic hair and starting of menstruation, commonly known as periods.
  • Menstrual periods are a natural change during adolescence and signify that the girl can become pregnant. Menstruation is a natural and healthy process.
  • Menstruation can start any time after 10 years of age. Menstruation occurs once in a month.  It is commonly called monthly menses or the periods.  When a girl gets her first menstruation it is called menarche.  When menstruation stops between the ages of 45-55 years it is called menopause.
  • Most women have a cycle falling within the range of 21-35 days. The duration of menstrual periods could be from 3 to 7 days. 
  • Breast development is one of the first signs of puberty among girls. This starts between 8 and 13 years and completed between 13 and 18 years.
  • Growth of breast may be associated with tenderness of breast in the initial phase.
  • The breast size is mainly determined by heredity and the development process differs from person to person. Weight also influences breast size.
  • Large breast size could be due to obesity. Manage your weight.
  • Similarly, being underweight could be one of the reasons for small breasts. 
  • Your complexion is genetically controlled and no amount of cosmetics or parlor visits can change it.
  • Keep the face clean. It enhances the natural complexion and helps to keep face free of acne. 
  • Be confident about who you are and how you look. 
  • No, acne doesn’t occur due to fantasizing about opposite sex. Hyperactive oil glands in the skin cause Acne.
  • You can get pimples because of:
    • Very oily skin
    • Anxiety due to some issue or any other reason
    • Air pollution as it clogs the pores on the skin.
  • Wash your skin frequently with water especially when you come from outside and before going to bed.
  • Use clean towel to wipe your face
  • Do not rub or scratch any pimples specially.
  • Avoid use of cosmetics without consulting a skin specialist
  • Go to a skin specialist, especially if pimples fill up with pus and are painful.
  • Balanced diet means inclusion of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins in requisite proportions.
  • Water intake should be between 8-10 glasses.
  • Drastic diet plans and slimming medication can be harmful, unless prescribed by a qualified professional (nutritionist/doctor) for health reasons.
  • Every region has locally available nutritious food items. These should be identified and consumed as part of our daily meals. For example, the millet Ragi is very rich source of calcium and easily available across many parts of India.
  • Too much intake of fat, oil, fried food, sugar and salt is bad for health.
  • Excessive dieting should be avoided.
  • Regular eating habits and physical exercises usually help in maintaining a healthy weight.  
  • During the growing up period extra calcium is needed for strong bones and teeth.  Milk and milk products, green leafy vegetables, roasted gram, beans, nuts, fish, fruits such as orange, apricots are good sources of calcium.
  • Iron rich foods include green leafy vegetable, pumpkin, egg yolk, whole grains, liver, nuts, beans and pulses. Iron is an important component in a balanced diet and the most commonly known manifestation of iron deficiency is anemia.  
  • Excessive dieting is harmful
  • It can cause fatigue, anemia, constipation and lack of concentration.
  • Dieting can also cause deficiency of vitamins and minerals.
  • Excessive dieting can cause dramatic weight loss
  • Always take nutritious and balanced diet and eat regular meals
  • Regular physical activity and exercise also help in keeping weight in check
  • A qualified dietician/ doctor may help in developing a healthy and balanced diet plan 
  • Yes, use of steroids for body building is unsafe and illegal
  • Due to misinformation, young boys may take steroids for body building
  • Use of steroids during adolescence can affect normal physical growth.
  • It can also cause heart disease, sterility and high blood pressure
  • Some other consequences of taking steroids include drug addiction, sleep disturbance, mood swings and depression.
  • You could be under weight due to low intake of food, emotional concerns or a medical problem.
  • Take a well-balanced nutritious diet.  
  • Increase portion size.
  • Eat 2-3 meals per day.
  • Increase intake of fresh fruits and salads
  • Take mild exercises to increase your appetite.
  • If you are still underweight, you may want to consult a dietician or a qualified doctor to rule out any medical problem.
  • You could be overweight due to excessive food intake, lack of physical exercise, emotional concerns or a medical problem.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Eat 2-3 meals per day.
  • Reduce junk food and fried food intake.
  • Reduce portion size and sugar intake.
  • Avoid cold drinks and alcohol.
  • Increase water intake so that you drink at least 8-10 glasses of water per day.
  • Increase intake of fresh fruits and salads.
  • Go for walks and exercise regularly.
  • If you are still overweight, you may want to consult a dietician or a doctor to rule out any medical problem.
  • Your adult height is dependent upon your genes. To reach your optimal height, eat a nutritious diet containing Calcium and Vitamin D along with sufficient physical activity.
  • If you are unusually short consult a qualified doctor.
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