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US teen girls experience increased sadness and violence

US teen girls experience increased sadness and violence

According to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ? CDC, for its acronym in English?, almost 3 out of 5 ?57 percent? of US teen girls felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021, twice as many as boys, an increase of nearly 60 percent and the highest level reported in the past decade.

This is pointed out by a new study of the federal agency, which also points out and confirms the extreme and continuous anguish among adolescents who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or queer ?LGBQ+?.

And it is that, although all adolescents reported increasing mental health problems, experiences of violence and suicidal thoughts and behaviors, girls fared worse than boys in almost all measures. 

“High school should be a time for grounding, not trauma. These data show that our children need much more support to cope, have hope and thrive,” said Debra Houry, CDC's chief medical officer and deputy director for Programs and Science. 

"Proven school-based prevention programs can offer adolescents a vital lifeline in these rising waves of trauma," he added.

The new analysis includes data and trends from the 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), which examines health behaviors and experiences among US high school students. 

According to the data, the mental health of young people has continued to worsen, with particularly sharp increases in widespread reports of harmful experiences among adolescent girls.

And it is that, indicates the investigation, almost 1 of each 3?30 percent? seriously considered attempting suicide, nearly 60 percent more than a decade ago; while 1 in 5 ?18 percent? experienced sexual violence in the past year, an increase of 20 percent since 2017, when the CDC began monitoring this measure.

Meanwhile, more than 1 in 10 ?14 percent? had ever been forced to have sex, up 27 percent since 2019 and the first increase since the CDC began monitoring this measure.

The report also found that more than half ?52 percent? of LGBQ+ students had recently experienced mental health issues, and worryingly, more than 1 in 5 ?22 percent? attempted suicide last year. 

However, trend data is not available for students who identify as LGBQ+ due to changes in survey methods.

The findings by race and ethnicity, the text specifies, also show high and worsening levels of persistent sadness or hopelessness in all racial and ethnic groups; and that reported suicide attempts increased among black and white youth.

"Young people are experiencing a level of distress that requires us to act with urgency and compassion," explained CDC Division of School and Adolescent Health Director Kathleen Ethier. "With the right programs and services, schools have the unique ability to help our young people thrive."

In that sense, the CDC pointed out that school activities can make a big difference in the lives of adolescents with a relatively small infusion of support for schools, since more than 95 percent of young Americans spend much of their daily lives in educational institutions. 

While their primary goal is academic learning, schools can take evidence-based steps to foster the knowledge, skills, and support needed to help prevent and reduce the negative impact of violence and other trauma, and improve mental health. For example, safe and trustworthy adults, such as mentors, trained teachers and staff, can help foster school connection, so teens know that the people around them care about them, their well-being and their success, the study says. .

To this, he added that schools can provide education that equips adolescents with essential skills, such as understanding and ensuring true sexual consent, managing emotions and asking for what they need. Schools can also connect teens with their classmates and communities through school clubs and community outreach.

You may be interested in: Mental Health Unit Expanded at Maguire Correctional Facility in Redwood City

Pamela Cruz
Pamela Cruz
Editor-in-Chief of Peninsula 360 Press. A communicologist by profession, but a journalist and writer by conviction, with more than 10 years of media experience. Specialized in medical and scientific journalism at Harvard and winner of the International Visitors Leadership Program scholarship from the U.S. government.


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