Issues That Girls Face Today

Although boys face their own unique challenges as they grow and develop, the increase in the challenges girls face today is significant.  Working with impressionable young girls, I find myself having to think every day about how I speak to them. How what I say will be perceived by them in terms of cognitive and personality development.

Our young boys will play a huge part in the development of the girls, as will the girls for the boys.

In the Winter 2019 publication of “Ed. Harvard Education Magazine”, Lori Houghs’ article, “Girlhood: After years of social gains and with bright futures within reach, why are things still so difficult for middle school girls?” studies the challenges girls faced historically as they make the journey from pre-adolescence to adolescence, and also describes the challenges that girls face today.

She states, “A 2017 study in the journal Pediatrics found that between the years 2005 and 2014, adolescent depression rose steadily, particularly for girls. For boys, the prevalence of a major depressive episode increased from 4.5 percent in 2004 to 5.7 percent in 2014. For girls, it increased from 13.1 percent to 17.3 percent.”  In the article, Lori Hough also speaks to the increase in perfectionism and perfectionistic personality traits, along with a multitude of body image concerns. We are seeing the same increase in schools, and are battling these complicated issues every day.

Developmentally, the middle school years are always going to be the most complicated, as there are so many changes occurring physically and cognitively. 

For girls, interest in boys often comes into play at this age, and being attractive physically and skilled socially takes up space in the daily energy that young people have in storage.  Social media is a huge factor as well. It is during this age that has girls start to really consider how important it is that other people see them in a specific way. Our kids may not be ready to negotiate such concepts: confidence can be broken, and voices quieted.

If you are the parent of an adolescent child, I have shared some valuable reads to manage your journey as the parent of a child coming of age. You should also check out Strong Is The New Pretty, a photo journal of girls being strong and enjoying the experience of being strong girls, by Kate Parker.

My goal is to instill the confidence in young girls so that they will be able to stand on their own solid ground, let their voices be heard, and become strong, confident young women.

I stumbled upon a Girls On The Run, after-school program while researching this topic. This program is designed to build confidence in impressionable young girls while celebrating all that makes them unique in girls in 3rd-5th Grade.

The article I mentioned earlier is found here:

Girlhood (Harvard ed.)

A couple of others to think about:

But That’s a Girl Book – an article about gender in literature.

Why Girls Beat Boys in the Classroom but Lose to Them at the Office

What We’re Getting Wrong About “Positive Body Image”