Sadness and violence among teenage girls

Article

A recent report from the CDC detailed increasing rates of sadness and violence among US teenage girls.

Increased rates of sadness and violence have been reported in teenage girls in the United States, according to the CDC.

The rate of US teenage girls with persistent sadness or hopeless was 57% in 2021, double that of boys and nearly a 60% increase. In general, teenagers have experienced increased mental health issues, but the increases in violent experiences, suicidal thoughts, and suicidal behaviors were worse among girls.

Teenage girls identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or questioning experienced further challenges. Over half of teenagers in these groups reported poor mental health, with 1 in 5 attempting suicide in the past year.

“These data show our kids need far more support to cope, hope, and thrive,” said Debra Houry, MD, MPH, CDC’s chief medical officer and deputy director for program and science. “Proven school prevention programs can offer teens a vital lifeline in these growing waves of trauma.”

The 2021 analysis on mental health in teenage girls gathered data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, finding significant worsening of mental health in this group. Almost 1 in 3 teenage girls had considered attempting suicide, which is a 60% increase from a decade prior. 

Sexual violence was experienced by 18% of teenage girls, which is a 20% increase since 2017. Forced sex was reported in 14%, a 27% increase since 2019.

A massive difference in teenagers’ mental health can be made through school-based activities. Most teenagers in the United States spend most of their daily lives in school, giving schools the opportunity to foster knowledge, skills, and support for reducing the impacts of violence and improving mental health.

“Young people are experiencing a level of distress that calls on us to act with urgency and compassion,” said Kathleen Ethier, PhD, CDC division of adolescent and school health director. “With the right programs and services in place, schools have the unique ability to help our youth flourish.”

Reference

US teen girls experiencing increased sadness and violence. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. February 13, 2023. Accessed February 27, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2023/p0213-yrbs.html

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