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Kayla is a Year 7 student who is physically more mature than her peers.

She excels in sports and


visual arts at school. She liked maths and science, but now often complains of forgetting class
content and not being able to keep up. Some students have said that she can be withdrawn and
doesnt share personal information. Other staff members have mentioned that she sometimes
doesnt show up for class. You notice that she has difficulties with peers of her own age and hangs
around with older students who have been previously reprimanded for using illicit drugs. She has a
supportive home environment however her parents have very limited English language skills, and
are struggling financially. She has said to you that she actually wants to do well at school and
hopefully do visual arts at university, but just needs more help.

[TITLE: Kayla's Physical Development]


Hi, I'm Aspasia and I'm going to talk about Kayla's physical development.

[TITLE: Analysis

Kayla is early maturing, and therefore at risk of:


- attention of older peers
- drug use
- unsafe/early sex
- parental conflict
- mood disorders
- school problems

(Chan & Chan, 2013; Gentry & Campbell, 2002)]

From the information given, we know that Kayla is an early-maturing girl, and that means she'll
have a higher than average chance of developing several issues1. Some more salient issues include
attracting the attention of older peers we know Kayla hangs out with some older students, and that
they have been caught using illegal drugs. This may lead to her facing peer pressure to engage in
unsafe sex, drug-taking and other risky behaviours. This is a huge warning sign for us as teachers
because Kayla is early maturing, and we know that early maturing girls tend to engage in substance
abuse.

As Aylin and Sandy will explain later, these risky behaviours can influence social, psychological
and cognitive factors.

Other things to consider about Kayla as early maturing is the potential for parental conflict (if they
cannot understand the social and emotional expectations of their early-maturing child), mood
disorders (which are likely, as she is described as passive and withdrawn by her peers), and school
problems (which we know is true as she been reported to skip classes).

[Judith Harris (2011) states that peers are the most significant factor.]
Kayla's early maturation alone would not be a cause for concern. However, using Harris' idea2 that
peers are the most influential factor in an adolescent decision making around risk, we as teachers
are worried about Kayla's involvement with her older friends especially given their history. So,
this requires preventative interventions before any problems get worse.

[TITLE: Strategies
(video of puppet parents being given Information, Support and Resources in the form of
words on paper)]
One strategy to employ is to simply speak with Kayla and her parents about the issues surrounding
her early maturation. Her parents should be given information, support and resources about the
problems early maturing girls can face so that they can understand and support Kayla as she faces
these problems.

[Chan & Chan (2013, Abstract) found that the way adolescents deal with peer pressure is related to
their relationships with mothers and emotional autonomy from parents.]

Developmentally appropriate support from her parents will help to protect Kayla from the pressure
of her older peers by giving her the means to know how good decisions are made3.

[TITLE: Justification
Gentry & Campbell (2002) found that adolescents tend to fear social ramifications more than health
ones.]

When speaking to Kayla, it may be best to do so indirectly so that she does not feel embarrassed or
singled out. We would address the whole class, demonstrating the process of making a rational
decision, the social and physical consequences of these decisions, and the weight these decisions
can have when aspects such as sex, drugs and alcohol are involved1. Sandy and Aylin will also
speak about how they would address Kayla's issues.

[(video of puppet parents/kayla, parents/teacher and teacher/parents being happy together)]


One advantage of informing Kayla and her parents about what she's going through as an early
maturing girl is that it opens a dialogue between Kayla and her teachers, and Kayla and her parents,
and her parents and us. This allows Kayla to have good adult role models, and to improve closeness
with her parents which will help to increase protective factors which Aylin will speak about later.

[(video of puppet kayla being sad)]


On the other hand, if this isn't handled properly, problems may arise. Kayla's parents may feel angry
that we would suggest that their child is taking drugs and having sex. This may result in Kayla
feeling less close with her parents, thus increasing her chances of engaging in risky behaviour.

[(video of puppet kayla + parents being happy together)]


The best way to circumvent this issue would be to emphasise that it is not Kayla's fault, but the fault
of those who judge her on her stage of physical development.

1 APA
Gentry, J. H. & Campbell, M. (2002). Developing adolescents: A reference for
professionals. American Psychological Association. Retrieved October 6, 2016, from
https://www.apa.org/pi/families/resources/develop.pdf

2 Judith Harris
Harris, J. R. (2011). The nurture assumption: Why children turn out the way they do. New
York, America: Simon and Schuster.

3 Chan & Chan


Chan, S. M., & Chan, K. W. (2013). Adolescents susceptibility to peer pressure relations to
parentadolescent relationship and adolescents emotional autonomy from parents. Youth
Society, 45(2), 286 302. doi: 10.1177/0044118X11417733

4 Deardorff

Deardorff, J., Gonzales, N. A., Christopher, S., Roosa, M. W. & Millsap, R. E. (2005). Early
puberty and adolescent pregnancy: The influence of alcohol use. Pediatrics, 116(6), 1451
1456. doi: 10.1542/peds.2005-054