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SPOT

About Us

The Spot Community Project by SIPJ is a volunteer run, non-profit movement. Their vision is to help young people become confident and resilient in making informed decisions for their well-being, now and for their future, by engaging them in comprehensive sexuality education. The Spot Community is optimistic and ever-evolving in their quest to remove embarrassment, stigma and fear around the topics of sex and sex education. They have been delivering their educational programmes in schools since 2015 and have reached 11,248 children since. You can support them by pledging, sharing their work on your social media handles and volunteering your time and skills.

Ask The Experts

    Have a question for the expert? We got you covered! Published questions will remain anonymous.

    My 7-year-old daughter has dark leg hair and underarm hair. Is she hitting puberty early?

    Potentially. There are girls whose puberty onset is marked by change or growth of hair on their legs, underarms and pubic area. Usually, the big marker of puberty onset in girls is when their breasts bud. It is normal for breast buds to be very tender for the first few months or for one breast to start developing before the other. It is also normal to expect this process to kick in at around 8 years old in girls, so if your daughter is closer to her 8th birthday than she is to her 7th, this is not an alarm for precocious puberty. It can take between 2 years to 4 years before her first period comes. Afterwards, her body might take another 2 years to regulate her menstrual cycle into a rhythm that’s a reflection of her reproductive system. It’s best to start discussing puberty with her now, so you can help her manage her needs and expectations with dignity. All the best!

    How does a girl’s physical development relate to her period?

    A lot can happen in terms of physical development before we arrive at having our first period, also known as the menarche. There has been a myth flying about that girls who are heavier in weight tend to get their periods earlier compared to girls who are less heavy. This is partially true. There are other contributing factors including genetics and exposure to hormone inducing products among others. Physical changes are highly varied and will generally kick start around ages 7-8 and go on for about a decade. Best things to do in order to manage oneself during these changes include a healthy diet, enough sleep, exercise and self care practices. During this time, we encourage parents to discuss physical and emotional changes, how to form healthy relationships, the concepts of privacy, boundaries and consent as well as sexual and reproductive health, all the while reinforcing family values and customs and traditions. Hope this helps!

    When do kids start showing signs of puberty?

    There are three phases of puberty – beginning, middle, and end. Girls start their puberty earlier than boys. Girls generally will start their beginning phase between the ages 8 to 11. The first sign of physical change for girls is usually the budding of their nipples. Puberty journey varies from one child to another, and you may find similarities in terms of age and development to the journey their parents and/ or grandparents went through. Boys will experience changes in their genitals, around the ages of 9 to 14 – the scrotum and the penis, the scrotum colour becoming darker and growing bigger; as the first signs of physical change during puberty. Boys will also experience budding of their nipples, but no further growth. Whereas the growth continues on for girls.

    How early should I start talking to my kids about sex?

    I recommend parents to start as early as possible. Sex is a comprehensive and a life-long conversation which starts with simple concepts and builds over time as the child’s capacity to understand increases. It begins with laying the foundations with young children by teaching them about bodily autonomy, saying no to things that make them uncomfortable, and how to differentiate safe touches from unsafe touches. What’s healthy behaviour and what’s toxic for them. That it’s never OK for someone to pressure them to show their body if they don’t want to. That the only people who get to tell them what to do with their body (for health and safety reasons) are you, any other caregivers you name, and a doctor at the doctor’s office when you’re present with them. Talk about boundaries and personal safety. Make sure they know that their body is theirs and theirs alone and no one else’s. Create that degree of openness and respect for conversations about their bodies. We do our best to connect on a human level, we all feel things, we all see things and we all hear things and we are all born as sensual creatures. Let’s normalise these conversations so we can redefine how we look at sex and sexuality, we need to stop hyper sexualising the word sex itself – it is a health and safety issue, and it affects all of us especially in our ability to form healthy relationships outside of family.

    What is precocious puberty and is it true that my child may start going through puberty changes at age 8?

    Many factors can cause your child to mature faster than their peers. Factors include genetics, condition and diet during pregnancy and fundamental years, and underlying thyroid or hormone related conditions. Precocious puberty is not common, but has been recorded in Malaysia. The earliest record was a girl who got her period at 6, nearing 7. First thing to do if your child is going through puberty changes at 8 is to breathe. Recall your own changes that you went through, and see if you went through changes around the same age. Also speak with your partner and see if they went through puberty changes at around the same age too. For girls, it is common to start your early phase of puberty at 8, less common for boys. You can always see your doctor to perform physical tests to assess how your child’s body is maturing. You can also help your child by minimising environmental factors that can cause early puberty. Help them maintain a healthy diet, healthy weight and avoid exposing them to testosterone or estrogen that could be found in over-the-counter creams, gels, shampoos, hair treatments, medications and nutritional supplements. Children who go through puberty early have been recorded to be more at risk for issues with self-esteem, self-confidence, depression, self-harm and substance abuse. Remember to maintain close communication and assist them without bias, judgment and fear.