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Thursday, 20 September 2018
The Guardian reported this week that there has been a sharp decline in happiness among girls and young women in the last decade, with the majority of them blaming exams and social media for causing stress, a major survey has found.
Just one in four (25%) girls and young women between the ages of seven and 21 described themselves as “very happy” in the latest girls’ attitudes survey for the Girlguiding organisation – down from 41% in 2009.
The oldest were the least happy – more than a quarter (27%) of young women aged 17 to 21 said they did not feel happy, up from 11% in 2009. Their unhappiness in turn affected their confidence (61%), health (50%), relationships (49%) and studies (39%).
While seven out of 10 girls (69%) identified school exams as the key cause of stress, pressure from social media was blamed by six out 10 girls (59%), and increasing numbers said they had experienced unkind, threatening and negative behaviour online compared with five years ago. The research polled 1,900 girls and women aged between the ages of seven and 21.
The report raised concerns that girls today are socialising less in person and spending more time online. “Relationships are an essential element of contentment and it may be no coincidence that 10 years ago, girls of all ages were socialising more and comparing their lives online less,” it said.
The report continued; “More than half of those aged 13 to 21 have felt unsafe walking home alone, experienced harassment or know someone who has, and nearly half feel unsafe using public transport.”
The report outlined findings too. Young girls were more likely to consider themselves a feminist – up from just over a third (35%) in 2013 to just under half (47%) this year.
Girls in 2018 were more likely to have friends who have experienced mental health problems, but they’re also talking more about it than in previous years. More than seven out of 10 (71%) knew of at least one girl with mental health issues – up from 62% in 2015 – but it is increasingly being discussed in schools, up from 44% in 2015 to 50% this year.
More participants in this year’s survey said they felt able to speak up about issues that matter to them – 36% of girls and young women aged 11 to 21 say they have spoken up to make their views known about an issue they care about, up from 28% in 2011. But of those who have spoken out, only 60% felt their voice had been heard.
The survey revealed a sharp increase in girls’ interest in science, technology and maths, with 41% of those aged between seven and 10 enjoying such subjects compared with 26% in 2016. There has also been an increase in girls wanting to become leaders in their chosen job – 53% up from 42%.
Source: Guardian Online, by Sally Weale