Advancing Promising Programm and Research/Evaluation Practices for Evidence-based Programs Reaching Very Young Adolescents: A Review of the Literature

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Between the ages of 10 and 14, boys and girls are beginning to solidify their identities and develop attitudes and skills that lay the foundation for future sexual and reproductive health and well being. Yet, sexual and reproductive health (SRH) programming for this age group, often called very young adolescents (VYA), is in its infancy. During this period, boys and girls experience a variety of changes - to their bodies and brains, emotionally and socially. It is also a time of developing sexuality, including the exploration of masculine and feminine roles and the acquisition of a gender identity (including sexual orientation). Given the central role of gender in sexuality, it is critical that SRH programs tackle the issue of gender and its influence on SRH outcomes. While these changes during adolescence are universal, every person will experience them differently and in relation to the norms and values transmitted through socialization, a process unique to every society. SRH programs for VYAs are therefore challenged with helping young girls and boys to navigate these physical, emotional, and social changes in diverse cultural contexts around the world.

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