A group of girls and boys are hanging after school talking, sketching, making beaded jewelry and cootie catchers, and practicing guitar. Some of the kids decide to play hangman, and others observe the game but continue their activities. [super over establishing shot: always changing® and growing up]
[setting up hangman game]
Austin: Okay, seven letters. Here we go.
Austin: Nope. (draws a head and writes an S)
Austin: Yes, one T. (fills in the letter T)
Austin: Nope, you get a body. (draws a stick body and writes an A)
Austin: E (fills in the letter E)
Austin: (playfully upset by the selection) Oh, man! Yes. (fills in the R)
Austin: (teasingly) Wah wah wah! (draws a leg and writes an O)
Austin: 26 letters and you pick that one? (fills in the Y)
Austin: Sorry, no N. Just a leg. (draws another leg and writes an N)
Austin: Wow, you guys are good! (fills in the P)
Austin: Yes, there’s a B.
Austin: Ding-ding-ding. (fills in the U)
[sketching at table with Xavier, but addressing Austin]
Jenny: Is that really your word, Austin?
Conner: Seriously, man. Why’d you pick “puberty?”
Austin:(teasingly) Because that’s what we’re learning about in health class next week. And I know you’re all really excited.
Danny: That’s not funny, man.
Suzette: No, that’s not funny at all!
Katie: I just hope it’s not going to be too embarrassing.
Maria: Personally, I don’t think it’s gonna be such a big deal.
Xavier: Yeah, me neither. My brother said he actually learned something…and, trust me, he knows everything.
All kids: Laugh and subtly interact with each other
[camera pulls back and audio volume drops]
Male announcer VO: Yes, puberty can seem weird and a little uncomfortable. And you probably have questions you’re afraid to ask. In fact, you may have lots of questions since much of this is all new to you. Or maybe you just started thinking about it—like right now. So here’s your chance to ask anything. Don’t be shy…I’m here to help.
[slow camera push in on Austin]
Austin: Alright, I have a question. So, what exactly is puberty anyway?
Announcer: Thanks for asking, Austin. Puberty is a series of changes that your body—and all your friends’ bodies—will go through as you grow up. It may seem a bit confusing or even a little embarrassing, but don’t worry. It happens to everyone, boys and girls—and it’s totally normal.
For boys, you'll get taller, bigger and stronger during puberty. Your penis and testicles will get bigger, too. Even your voice will get deeper. Your skin and your hair may become oily, and you may get pimples. You’ll also start to grow hair on your face and in your pubic area, and you may sweat more and develop body odor.
Austin: Wow. Looks like I’ve got a lot to look forward to. But what causes all these changes?
Announcer: Actually, something really cool causes all these changes. [illustration points to the boy’s head] You see, it all starts here in a tiny little gland located under the front of your brain called the pituitary gland. As boys begin puberty, the pituitary gland sends a signal to your testicles to begin making a hormone called testosterone. The testosterone made by your testicles during puberty travels throughout your entire body and causes all the changes we just discussed. Girls go through this process too, but the hormone in charge of their body changes is called estrogen.
Xavier: This all seems pretty weird. Does every boy go through puberty? Like, even my dad?
Announcer: Yes. Almost every boy in the world goes through puberty, Xavier. It’s 100% normal and nothing to be ashamed of. And, yes, your dad went through it, too. And so did your uncle and grandpa. So, if you have questions or need advice, don’t be shy about asking; they can be a big help.
Conner: Okay, so when does all this start?
Announcer: Puberty for boys usually starts between the ages of 10 and 17, and lasts for a few years. Everyone is different though, Conner, and it doesn’t matter when you start—your body will decide when the time is right. Now, the changes I talked about don’t happen overnight. Actually, they happen slowly over time. [Tanner male stages of development illustrations] Some of the changes you can expect will happen to your private area. Your penis and your testicles will start to get bigger and longer, and you’ll begin producing sperm, which is the male reproductive cell. Your testicles will start hanging lower and you’ll begin to grow pubic hair at the base of your penis. You’ll also grow hair in a few other new places, like on your face, under your arms, on your legs and sometimes on your chest. Your body shape will fill out and be more like a grown man. Your chest and shoulders will become broader. Your muscles will become more developed. And you’ll grow taller and may gain weight. Your voice may also start to “crack” as it becomes deeper. These changes mean you’re becoming a man—which all leads up to you being physically able to father children some day. But remember: a baby is a big responsibility and you’re probably not ready for that yet.
Danny: I’m allowed to do so much more than I used to. How do I make good decisions and stay out of trouble?
Announcer: First of all, congratulations, Danny. That’s exciting you have more freedom. And from your question, you understand that that also includes more responsibility. Remember, learning to make the right decisions for you is an important part of growing up. So, when you’re faced with a situation or problem you’re not quite sure how to handle, try this: think about all the different ways to handle it, evaluate the solutions and predict what might happen, act on the solution you think will have the best result and see what happens. That way, you’ll learn if your solution solved the problem in the right way.
Conner: I feel like the shortest guy in class. Some girls are even taller than me! Am I ever going to get taller?
Announcer: Yep, you will. Now, one thing that’s helpful to keep in mind if you feel a little on the short side is that girls tend to mature faster than boys. You’re definitely going to get taller, and you might even catch up with the girls in your class within a couple of years. Now, how tall you’ll be when you’re grown up is harder to predict, but a lot of it depends on your family. If your parents are tall, then chances are you’ll be tall, too—and if they’re shorter, then you might be shorter, too. Everyone is different, though, and grows according to his or her own schedule. But, in general, boys tend to grow in spurts that happen off and on until your late teens. Just keep reminding yourself that you’re developing on your own schedule, which is perfectly normal.
Xavier: My dad has a really deep voice. Will my voice change, too?
Announcer: Most likely. You see, Xavier, just like your pituitary gland and testosterone tell the other parts of your body to grow, they also tell your larynx, or your “voice box,” to grow. And when your larynx starts growing, it causes your voice to start to change and sound deeper. Sometimes it does something called cracking as it deepens, which can make you feel a little silly if it happens in the middle of a sentence. But it just means that your larynx is still growing. Eventually, your “new” voice will settle down and even out. Who knows? You may even start to sound like your dad!
Danny: Ugh. My parents are always nagging at me to take a shower every day. Why do I need to do that?
Announcer: So you won’t smell! Now no offense, Danny, but another thing your body does during puberty is jump-start your sweat glands. You see, we’re all born with two kinds of sweat-makers. The first kind is called eccrine glands and they produce a clear, odorless perspiration that cools your body when it gets too hot. Even babies sweat like this because your eccrine glands start working as soon as you’re born. The second type of sweat glands is called apocrine glands. These get switched on during the hormonal changes of puberty, and when the sweat they produce mixes with bacteria on your skin, it can cause body odor, also known as BO. A lot of apocrine glands are located under your arms, so this can be a really smelly area.
So, what’s the best way to deal with BO? Take a shower or a bath every day, and be sure to use soap or body wash. Another way to help minimize BO and feel less stinky is to use a deodorant or a deodorant with antiperspirant to help keep body odor in check. [illustrate red deodorant stick here]
Maria: But what about my face? Am I gonna get pimples?
Announcer: That depends. You see, besides sweat, there’s something else your body will start producing during puberty. It’s called sebum. It’s an oily substance that can cause acne, also called pimples. Acne is really common during puberty and can’t always be prevented, even by washing all the time. The best way to help keep your skin clear is to wash your face twice a day with a gentle cleanser. And remember to use a moisturizer!
And one more thing: sebum can make your hair look and feel greasy, too. So be sure to shampoo regularly to keep your hair clean and healthy. And to keep it from being frizzy, try using a light conditioner and a wide-toothed comb when your hair is wet. Washing it every day or every other day is best for most hair types.
Maria: But do I really have to brush my teeth twice a day?
Announcer: Yes, actually you do. Brushing helps keep your teeth healthy and clean…and, more importantly, it can keep you from having dragon breath. So remember: the best way to avoid dragon breath is to brush your teeth properly every morning and every night with a good toothpaste. [illustrate Crest® toothpaste tube here]
Xavier: What about shaving? When do I start doing that?
Announcer:That depends. Like everything else with puberty, hair growth varies from person to person. Most guys start growing some hair on their face at about 16, and you’ll probably spot it on your upper lip or chin first. But keep in mind that it could happen sooner than that for you and, if your dad has a thick, dark beard, then chances are you will, too. So when you think you’re ready to start shaving, talk to your dad or an older brother and ask them to show you the ropes. Shaving can be a little bit tricky at first, so it’s nice to practice with someone who’s been doing it for a while. And be sure to have your own razor. That’s definitely a safety must. Just remember: like anything else, you’ll get better at shaving with practice. Plus, your beard will probably grow faster and thicker as you get older, so you may have to shave more often as an adult.
Conner: I can’t believe I’m asking this, but sometimes my penis gets hard. What’s that all about?
Announcer: No need to be embarrassed, it’s supposed to do that! When your penis gets hard, it’s called an erection. Erections are 100% normal and happen when the blood vessels in your penis fill with blood. There are lots of causes for erections, even if you aren’t thinking about girls or sexual things. Sometimes they can happen for no reason at all—which can be a little nerve-racking depending on where you are. But don’t worry too much if you get an erection in public. They aren’t as noticeable as you think, and they usually go away fairly quickly.
Conner: Ok, but if erections happen for no reason, why am I getting them at all?
Announcer: As embarrassing as they can seem right now, erections are an important part of the male reproductive system. One of the biggest changes your body goes through during puberty is that your testicles begin to produce sperm, which can fertilize a female’s egg in order to make a baby.
Danny: But what about size? Does it matter how big my penis is?
Announcer: Nope, not at all. Penises do vary in length and shape from person to person, but not as much as you may think. The size of your penis has absolutely nothing to do with how manly you are or whether you can become a father one day, so don’t worry about it.
Xavier: Sometimes I wake up and my pajama bottoms are sticky. Is that normal?
Announcer: Some people call what you are describing a “wet dream,” or what your health teacher calls a nocturnal emission. Wet dreams happen when you ejaculate in your sleep. You won’t know it’s happening and it’s not always caused by dreaming about girls or sexual things. It just happens. Most boys will have wet dreams at one time or another, especially during puberty, so there is nothing to get upset about. Plus, you’ll probably grow out of it as you get older.
Austin: I live with my mom. Do I have to talk to her about all this stuff?
Announcer: Listen, it’s really up to you. I know what’s happening to your body can seem embarrassing, but it’s a normal thing that every guy goes through. And of course your mom doesn’t know what it’s like to go through everything you’re experiencing, but she does understand why and how it happens. So if you feel comfortable talking to your mom about the changes you’re seeing and feeling in your body, then great. She may actually surprise you with how cool she is about it. If it makes you more comfortable, then talk to a stepparent, your dad, an older brother, a friend’s dad or another adult you trust.
Mandy: What can I do to stay healthy while my body goes through all these changes?
Announcer: The three things you need to do during puberty are eat properly, exercise and get plenty of rest. Select a healthy range of foods that will help you get all the vitamins and nutrients your body needs, and minimize junk food. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables; proteins like meat, milk, eggs and beans; and complex carbohydrates, like whole wheat breads, pastas and cereals. Another way to be healthy as you’re growing into your new body is to exercise every day. Try going for a walk, riding your bike or dancing to your favorite song. It will keep your body strong and healthy—and it’s a lot of fun, too! And, most importantly, get plenty of sleep, about eight to nine hours every night. That way, your body has lots of energy for the next day!
Suzette:What if I have more questions that come up? Who should I ask?
Announcer:The best place to start is to talk to your mom, dad or another adult you trust. It can be your aunt, a friend’s mom, your grandmother or an older sibling who’s “been there and done that.” I know that asking questions about puberty may seem a little embarrassing at first, but don’t be afraid. They’ve all been through puberty themselves.
So when you have questions, don’t wait. Start the conversation! Trust me, you’ll feel better after you do. And you’ll feel good knowing that the people you love and trust can be there to help.
[This will be a one- to two-minute series of outtakes where the boys and girls flub their lines, make silly faces, say funny things about puberty, or just dance around]