Is It Believable that an 11 year-old girl looks 18?

I am starting this as a General Questions thread, because I don’t want to detract from a Great Debate thread
discussing, in a case in which an 11 year old girl (who reportedly looked much older than 11) solicited sex from a 23 year old man, whether the man should be sentenced harshly IAW statutory rape guidelines, or leniently due to mitigating circumstances (she solicited him, she looked older….)

Within this debate, a sideline developed in how probable it is that an 11 year girl could be, as reported, “fully developed”. I’ve C&P’d pertinent posts & would like to continue the discussion here. If you would like to comment on the sentencing, please use the link above!

Jois posted:

I answered:

Jois replied:

Jois, I think a lot of our disagreement here is one of perspective. (I’m assuming, from your last post, that you are a teacher) You see & remember the one kid who stands out in a class. I am an Endocrinologist. While I primarily treat adults, my certification board exams did include puberty & precocious puberty. I think of this issue in terms of which kids have pathological causes of precocious (early) puberty, and require moderately expensive evaluations, and very expensive treatment. Between what is normal/average/typical and what is abnormal/demands evaluation & treatment there are a fair number of kids who may be outside 2 SD (= “not at all unusual” in my post), but not in the very small number (1-2 per 1,000 roughly) who have some pathological state leading to precocious puberty, which will end up seriously compromising final adult height.

My main reason to post at all was to correct the impression your first post gave that a) a girl menstruating by age 11 was highly unusual and b) that such a girl would be short - under 5’0".

A 105 lb. girl (requisite weight for menarche) actually IS pretty big for 9 or 10, or even 11years old (roughly 98th, 90th, 70th percentile, respectively).

My description did not describe pubertal development in full; it was intended only to show that if a girl does menstruate early, then she has already undergone the majority of her growth spurt, and will be TALL for her age, since her classmates will not have had this accelerated growth, and not, as you suggested, short.

Traditional cut-offs for normal puberty are girls with Stage II breast or axillary/pubic hair development have been that under 8 is abnormal. BUT, recent epidemiological studies show that among Caucasian girls, 5% had Tanner stage II or higher breast development, and 3% had Tanner stage II+ axillary/pubic hair. Among African-American girls, the rate is even higher - 15% with Tanner stage II+ breast development, and 18% Tanner stage II+ axillary/pubic hair development.
(Cite: “Central Precocious Puberty: An Overview of Diagnosis, Treatment, and Outcome”, Peter A. Lee, Endocrinology & Metabolism Clinics of North America, Dec 1999, Vol28:4, pp901-918)
Sorry, this is not avail on web. E-mail me & I will fax/snail mail on request.

Additional cites:
Columbia University Home Medical Site @


In girls, the first physical signs of sexual development are the budding of breasts, usually between ages 9 and 13. Not uncommonly, one breast may begin to develop before the other, or the breasts will be asymmetrical. While this may seem a cause for concern, it usually is not a sign of abnormality. Breasts are seldom exactly the same size, and by adulthood they have usually evened out so the differences are barely noticeable. If the breasts remain markedly asymmetrical or, in rare instances, one fails to develop, it can be a source of embarrassment and sensitivity. A visit to a physician may assure a girl with asymmetrical breasts that she does not have a disease, and that the problem can be surgically corrected.
At the same time as the breasts develop or shortly thereafter, pubic and other body hair begins to grow. As puberty progresses, girls experience an adolescent growth spurt and begin to accumulate body fat in an adult

Is providing a link to a picture of the girl out of the question? Then we could draw our own conclusions…

I was thinking the same thing, following the GD thread. But I’d imagine that, as a minor, her anonymity would be preserved…

The has a search section and you can find all three articles by using the judge’s name - Durke Thompson.

There is a description of the girl by the guy’s lawyer.

Oh, I’m gonna keep using these #%@&* codes 'til I get 'em right.

Quick thoughts:

Adult female average height is 5’5" right now
Adult male average height is 5’10" right now
maybe …5’11"

Girls stop growing 3" or 3 years after menarche, how come boys keep growing until 20 21 years of age?

Isn’t it normal menarche that closes the epithesis of the long bones? Within a year or two?

My classes of 25-30 kids, both boys and girls and I taught specific subjects, not a closed single classroom and saw typically 90 kids per year for 3 years. I’d been told the Tex-Mex kids were standoffish and developed early. Neither was true.

The GD thread seemed to be running along the lines of the guy not knowing the gun was loaded and even he can’t be held at fault because he didn’t know he was breaking the law, the girl lied to him.

Actually it is to me pretty easy to tell the age/sexual development of the girls by their shapes. The big waist is the real key. It takes a long time for the waist to thin out as well as hips to fill out to fill adult women’s clothing. Maybe it is because of sketching that I looked at the whole kid not just the bust or hips.

Too bad we can’t ask how tall the girl is!

I need to go back and read the rest of your post. I’m glad you brought this back up.

Oh, I’m gonna keep using these #%@&* codes 'til I get 'em right.

I heard an interesting theory recently that it might be attributable to consumption of dairy products in which the cows had been given bovine growth hormone.

Krispy Original – voted SDMB’s 19th most popular poster (1999)

Thanks Jois, for the Washington Post link…

I lurked on the other thread, just seeing the opinions, but I think I will comment to both threads.

First of all, I totally agree with punishing any predator who seeks out underage girls. That being said, I have to agree with the judge. If this 11 yr old had a history of soliciting older men, and dressing the part to decieve the defendant, the was obviously not a crime of malice. Although the judges "it takes two to tango" remark was a little coarse, I think most logically thinking people would agree. I agree with the judge in reducing his sentence, and stating that this guy is not going to be a repeat offender. I have to admit that I haven't read up on the whole case. I do remember reading that this guy had to take some alcohol classes as part of his sentence. This tells me that he was under the influence at the time.... Don't get me wrong! I'm not saying that this condones his action in anyway! Just stating that this guys judgement was not keen. After reading all this, I'm thinking it should probably be posted in the other thread. I guess more to the point, is do people really find it that hard to believe that an 11 yr old could pass for 18?

I know the parents are rightfully angry, but c’mon! Where is the parental responsibility here?! Some of that anger should be direct toward the girl, but mostly themselves. Afterall, this guy was found in THEIR home! I’ll probably get flamed for this commentary, but, I gotta say what I believe…

I haven’t read the GD thread or any of the articles about this case, so I can’t comment specifically. However, any man (and at 23, he’s a man, not a boy) who claims to have beleived an 11 year old was 18 is a pedophile. Period. I’m not buying it for one second.

Regarding some of the information posted above about puberty and menstruation…

I was 8 years old (in 3rd grade) when I began developing breasts, and I was 11½ when I started my period. I can’t remember how tall I was then, but I’m 5’4" now.

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” - Anne Frank

Majormd: I don’t think we are that far off but still can’t see anything in what you sent that says a girl menstruating early will be tall. Since body fat is needed to trigger menarche it seems more likely that a short chubby girl would be set for starting early.

Check these against the standards for height for the same ages, please. (I don’t have a source for this.)

What would the percent be for starting -breast budding- puberty at age 7 or 8?

Please email sources you used and charts, too, if it is easier.

Due to circumstances beyond my control I raised my younger sister. It was from her friends that I observed the early menstruating girls=shorter and later mensturating girls=taller, not from one student in El Paso.

The ones who “matured early” were always short - 5’2" to 5’5" and the later ones were always taller 5’6" up to 6’ even.

I was the one who got the Midol, sat in the stands for cheerleaders and majorette tryouts, put pads in the hall closet and bath house, later tampex or what ever that was, and all that goes with it.

I’m not whining, I just saying I had real live data when I decided who would be tall and who would not. Small though the sample was - 20-25 girls.

Oh, I’m gonna keep using these #%@&* codes 'til I get 'em right.

I think it’s unlikely in the extreme that an eleven-year-old could pass for eighteen to a reasonabky discerning observer.

I don’t know about menarche, bone plates, or any of the medical data ably presented above. This is an opinion only, based on common-sense, real-life experience. It is unscientific and anecdotal.

But - almost no way!

(Then why was I arguing the other way in GD? I wasn’t. In GD I started from the proposition that, however unlikely, it was reasonable for the man to have believed she was eighteen. I based this on the judge’s ruling and comments, and reasoned from there.)

  • Rick

I don’t know much about this case, but I have to say that it is possible for a pre-teen girl to appear much older. I know because I’ve seen it. I used to hang around the “Guess Your Age” booth at Astroworld here in Houston. I saw girls who looked 12 but had ID to prove they were 18, and girls who looked 18 but whose parents (very uncomfortably) swore they were 12. And these were not girls dressed up in mini-skirts with heels and make-up. Just regular girls who won stuffed teddy-bears for not looking their age.


The Power Of Christ: 2000 years and He hasn’t come yet!

Consider this. Though it might make you squirm, there are some guys out there who want their 18 year old dates to have an even more youthful look. They are legally 18, but they look 15.

It’s easier to believe an 11 year old could look fifteen, but claim she was eighteen…

And as an unrelated note, in this part of the world the legal age is 16.

Returning Soon!

The Legend Of PigeonMan - Watch this space…! Great things are afoot!

Entirely possible for an eleven year old to appear to be eighteen. I went to a new year’s party (many) years ago and there was an eleven year old girl there that polished off a fifth of gin and then came on to a guy that I used to race with. She was heavy and big for her age and he thought she was a LOT older till I filled him in. Dr. Laura woulda had a cow.

“Hope is not a method”

BTW, along the same lines, 16-year old Anna Kournikova travels with her 27-year-old boyfriend (and no parents).

Is anyone complaining about that, or is this an erroneous news blurb?

To reply specifically to the OP:

One possible line of thinking for this poor schmoe is the following – “Well, she says that she’s 18, but I think she’s exaggerating. She’s probably 16. Could she be 15? No, look at her, she’s clearly grown up.”

I don’t think the possibility that a sexually attractive young woman could be as young as 11 would cross the mind of a normal adult male; if one doesn’t self-identify as a pedophile, one assumes that those one finds sexually attractive are acceptable targets of one’s attraction. This, of course, raises the issue of whether the gentleman in question is “normal,” but the evidence suggests that he was not motivated by pedophilia in this instance.

So my theory is that he suspected she was exaggerating her age, but had no idea by how much.

[slight digression to Cuba]
The subject of onset of menarche has been covered very well by majormd,so it would be pointless for me to point out that my impression (reinforced by only anecdotal evidence) is that menarche and sexual activity are more common now among girls 8-11 than in previous generations. I did a quick 'Net search in hopes of finding some solid facts or figures, but all I learned is that the officially tracked “teen pregnancy rate” covers girls 15-19 and has been falling. (My semi-serious WAG: possibly because some of the girls are getting pregnant younger than 15.)
[return flight from Cuba]

…but when you get blue, and you’ve lost all your dreams, there’s nothing like a campfire and a can of beans!

Its not impossible… nor is it improbable.

There are so many things about the human body that are not understood. Everyone is Unique (“I’m not”- Life of Brian) so it is not improbable.

was the guy drunk?

everyones impression of age is different, so
this arguement could go on forever.
She said she was 18. He believed her.

Wether he had a penchant for little girls we dont know, but i doubt she was wearing a dorothy-style dress with her hair in pigtails
and her skipping rope in her hands.

enough of this rediculous banter… I’m going to bed

Sure an 11 year old can look 18. But then a 23 year old guy can be stupid enough to fall for it, duh.

I recall I think the worlds record for the youngest birth was from a 5 year old Pakistan girl [?] I know the record people don’t want people to try to beat this anymore so it may not be in the Guiness book but maybe it is.