"Premature Sexualisation" Pushing Young Girls into Depression and Self-Harm: New Study
By Hilary White
July 14, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - "When I was 11, I read a teenage magazine for the first time and that is when it kind of clicked, 'I should be like this'," says one young girl surveyed in a study by Girlguiding UK and the Mental Health Foundation, that has revealed three leading potential "triggers" for serious mental health problems in girls: premature sexualisation, commercialisation and alcohol misuse.
More generally, the report reveals a loss of childhood innocence and says girls today experience high levels of "stress, anxiety and unhappiness". The study found that premature sexualisation and pressure to grow up too quickly are two "key influences" in the anxiety felt by girls.
"Sexual advances from boys, pressure to wear clothes that make them look too old and magazines and websites directly targeting younger girls to lose weight or consider plastic surgery were identified as taking a particular toll," the report says.
"Premature Sexualisation" Pushing Young Girls Into Depression and Self-Harm: New Study
How sad. This is one of the many reasons why I feel so strongly about reaching out to younger women regarding chastity and self-respect.
Years ago, I felt prompted to see the movie, "Thirteen." I don't have children, but I sensed God wanted me to see a glimpse of what many younger women endure in school. It wasn't pretty.
"Thirteen" is a gritty, unpleasant movie. Chronicling the life of a young thirteen-year old girl raised by a single mother; it shows the unvarnished truth of life for many such teens. In order to be accepted or seen as "cool," one must throw themselves headlong into a life of deception, drugs and alcohol, and self-abuse. The film showed one previously innocent thirteen-year old girl being systematically corrupted by the "popular" girl - who in reality was an abandoned child.
Where were the voices in their lives? The adults who would tell them they were heading down the wrong path? A parent who closely watched who her daughter befriended? Mothers who knew what mothering really meant?
They were nowhere to be seen. One mother was a recovering alcoholic who was trying her best but falling short of connecting with her daughter. The other "wild child" didn't have a mother but was staying with a cousin who really didn't care when this thirteen-year old girl came home and even gave her a beer from time to time. How "cool."
I am thinking about this story in light of the youth attending World Youth Day in Australia. What kind of impact can these young people make in their schools and with their peers? Their influence cannot be overestimated and more than anything, we need to gird these young missionaries with prayers and novenas. They truly are in the lion's den of society but by the grace of God, they will emerge in one piece, victorious in Christ.
Pray for our sons and daughters, that they would not only know of God, but really know Him.