Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 71.djvu/247
THE HEALTH OF AMERICAN GIRLS.
nedy's results are interesting and full of suggestion, and much, light upon the health of our women would come from further investigations along these lines. From her data and that of others, it is to be noted that most girls between sixteen and twenty suffer more or less; and that alike for students and working girls the percentage of sufferers increases during that time.
My belief that most girls have the foundation of their suffering laid before they are sixteen may be unwarranted, but I have found no data that contradict it. Quoting again from Professor Tyler, "The critical period in a girls life is evidently the years between ten and fifteen, earlier than most of us think. Most of our care and thought is devoted to locking the barn door after the horse has been stolen." And once more, in the phrase of Dr. Engelmann, "the younger the girl, the nearer the period of puberty, the more impressionable the system, the more susceptible to influence for good or evil and most harm is wrought in the first year of functional life." I quote much from Dr. Engelmann, but where can I find better authority, especially in this particular phase of gynecology?
I have given a large part of my discussion of the health of our girls to a consideration of the demands of sex at adolescence, but perhaps this extent in treatment is not disproportionate to its importance in their lives. "When a girl is safely guided" through the breakers of puberty we have some reason to expect for her life-long vigor and the power to do. But she needs also through the rest of her school days intelligent direction in other respects. It sometimes seems to the teacher that she does not get quite as much as she needs.
The teacher is expected to see all that goes on in the schoolroom;, in addition to this she does see evidences of a great many things that go on outside the schoolroom, things which, though they largely affect the results of her work, she has little power to modify. The personal habits of a girl determine to a great extent what she is able to gain from her course of study. If it is important that her nourishment be directed at all times to the most immediate needs of her body, surely it is no less important that there should be sufficient nourishment to satisfy these needs.
Every girl knows that this sufficiency of nourishment is impossible unless she assimilates plenty of food, but she does not always make her knowledge evident in her habits. Very often the high-school teacher is asked to excuse from the session, on account of headache, some girl who admits when questioned that she has eaten no breakfast that morning. It is possible for the teacher to point out to the girl the folly of starting a locomotive for a day's run without providing fuel, but the girl must have some pressure brought to bear upon her at home if she is to take sufficient time for her meals. Insufficient breakfast is