The teenage years can be challenging, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released its Youth Risk Behavior Survey to highlight some of the difficulties young girls face. The data shows that one in five teen girls experienced sexual violence in the past year, with one in 10 forced to have sex.
The survey also revealed that three in five girls felt persistently sad and hopeless. Dr. Monique Winnett, a clinical psychologist at St. Joseph’s Health, explained that several factors contribute to these numbers, including the physical changes that teen girls undergo.
“We’re seeing girls hit puberty much earlier than they used to,” Winnett said. “So they’re having all these hormonal changes and physical changes in a body that does not yet have the adult brain or the emotional capacity to manage all of that.”
The survey also focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning youth. In 2021, more than one in 10 did not attend school due to safety concerns, with nearly one in four attempting suicide.
The survey was conducted during the pandemic when many people felt isolated. To help, Winnett suggested reaching out to those who fall into these demographics to ask how they are doing, spending time with them, and staying connected in ways they feel comfortable with.
She also noted that teens and adolescents aren’t typically comfortable making phone calls, so it’s essential to understand their preferred means of communication and meet them where they are.
For those who require mental health support, the suicide and crisis lifeline, 988, is available 24/7 and provides immediate assistance.
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