Booklet for Boys
A BOOKLET FOR BOYS
by J.C. Jensen, M.S.W.
This booklet has been written to help boys who are not circumcised learn more about their bodies and understand that it is fine to be the way they are.
The text is appropriate for children of elementary school age. It can be read independently by a fifth or sixth grader and can be read aloud to younger boys of about age six and up.
Originally written in 1983
Second printing: 1984
Updated for website: 2000
(edited and distributed by Rosemary Romberg, Peaceful Beginnings)
( Download this booklet as a Microsoft Word .doc file. Right click on booklet link, choose “Save As” or “Save Link As” )
YOU HAVE A WONDERFUL BODY
Every part of your body from head to toe has a special job to do. Your eyes see, your ears hear, and your feet walk. Inside your body the brain helps you think, the lungs help you breathe, and the stomach and intestines digest your food. Each part works in a special way. Your body even has its own protection system which helps keep you from being hurt. For example, the eyelids protect your eyes from injury and also keep them moist. The eyebrows and eyelashes not only help your face look attractive, but also catch small pieces of dust and dirt that would otherwise enter your eyes. Fingernails and toenails protect the ends of your fingers and toes, ribs guard important organs inside your chest, and skin covers the entire body to keep your insides from being touched or harmed by what is outside.
The private area of your body also has important parts. Some boys do not know the real names of these parts, so let’s learn them now.
The penis is shaped like a tube and has an opening at the end which allows liquid waste (urine) to leave the body. Underneath the penis is a sack of loose skin called the scrotum. The scrotum contains two egg-shaped parts called testicles. The end of the penis is covered by a fold of skin called the foreskin. The foreskin gets its name from being before or in front of the rest of the penis. Like all the other parts of the body which we have been talking about, your foreskin has an important purpose. Just the way eyelids protect your eyes, the foreskin covers the end of your penis, keeps it slightly moist, and protects it from being hurt or irritated.
Even though every boy is born with the end of his penis covered by a foreskin, you have probably seen boys who do not have one. You may even have a brother or father whose foreskin is missing. This is because a lot of people used to think that the foreskin was supposed to be cut off. They thought this would make it easier to keep the penis clean. Today, however, parents and doctors are learning that the foreskin is important and that it is good for a boy to have one. But even now there are people who still don’t know that it is best to leave the foreskin alone. So here in the United States many baby boys have an operation, called circumcision, inwhich a doctor removes the foreskin a few days after birth. Also, some parents believe in having their baby boys’ foreskins cut off for religious reasons.
Now more and more people (like your parents) know that it is not necessary to have the foreskin cut off and that it’s fine to leave your body just as it was when you were born. Circumcision is not only unnecessary, but also painful for a baby. You will be interested to know that in most countries outside the United States, very few boys have their foreskins cut off.
This boy has his foreskin (has not been circumcised.)
BEING CLEAN IS IMPORTANT
To keep your body in good health you need to keep it clean. At an early age you learned how to brush your teeth, how to wash your hands and face and how to take a shower or bath. You have been reminded to wash your hair, neck, ears and toes. You should also remember to wash your penis each time you are in the tub or shower. Your penis can easily be kept clean by gently pushing the foreskin back and washing the area underneath. But do not try to push the foreskin back any farther than it will go without hurting. Sometimes the foreskin is not ready to be pushed all the way back because the opening is too small or because some of the foreskin is still stuck to the head of the penis. As a boy grows older, the opening will become larger and the skin that was stuck together will loosen all by itself.
WHAT TO SAY IF THERE ARE QUESTIONS Sometimes when you are dressing or showering with other boys, there may be questions as to why your penis looks the way it does. Some boys do not know that this part of the body was operated on shortly after they were born, so they are surprised and curious when they see a boy with a foreskin. At times there may even be teasing. If this happens to you, you can tell them that some boys had their foreskins removed when they were babies, but that you did not. You can let them know that you are glad to be the way you are.
Now that more parents and doctors are learning that it’s fine for boys to keep their foreskins throughout life, you will find that there are more and more boys just like you. And most important of allow you can be thankful that your body is the way it was when you were born — complete with each and every part it was meant to have.
Illustrations on page 6 and 7 adopted from illustrations from THE FAMILY BOOK ABOUT SEXUALITY, by Mary S. Calderone, M.D., and Eric W. Johnson, Drawings by Vivian Cohen. Copyright 1981 by Mary S. Calderone, M.D., and Eric W. Johnson. Reprinted by permission of Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc.
Illustration on page 8 by Carol J. Smythe.