Social Complexities of Female Teenagers
By: Candice H.
As each generation of female activism and feminism carries the mighty flag of equality amongst genders, female teenagers are managing social complexities that their mother and grandmother won't relate to. How powerful can the feminism movement become without engaging teenage girls who are the face of our future? Although it appears history repeats itself, modern-day adolescent girls are experiencing social issues unlike those of the past.
According to the American Psychological Association, “Although progress related to gaining equal rights for women and girls has considerably broadened the range of choices girls have in living their lives, adolescent girls lack precise rules and expectations as they consider the variety of roles now open to them in contrast with more generally accepted expectations for girls in the past. Although these girls are expected to "have it all," few role models or guidelines exist. Interventions with adolescent girls must address this predicament, for it is an essential factor in the transition of teenage girls.”
What does it mean to “have it all” as a teenage girl living in today’s society? How can she have it all while struggling with depression, cyberbullying, self-harm, lack of trust in peers, and body image anxiety? In regards to self-assertion, the power of free speech, and access to equal resources, teenage girls possess the ability to stand up for themselves and create powerful movements on behalf of girls around the world. But, not all girls reach into their inner voice and speak up against their current “suppressive” situations.
Time Magazine reported a recent finding, which says, “The suicide rate among teen girls reached a 40-year high in 2015, according to a new analysis from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers found a substantial increase in suicides among teen girls and boys in the U.S. from 1975 to 2015, with the rate among girls hitting a record high. From 2007 to 2015 alone, suicide rates doubled among teen girls and by more than 30 percent among teen boys.”
Is there a correlation between open access to choices and suicide? Teenage girls have access to more life options than previous generations, such as occupations, sports, resources, legal rights, and various extracurricular activities. Modern adolescent girls are allowed to explore their likes and dislikes and encouraged to live an independent life achieving their personal goals. Could free choice options and social exposure cause the opposite effect leading to the 40-year record high suicides in female teenagers? Researchers found that social complexities and the digital age are playing a negative part in teenage girl development. Ruling Our Expectations, a U.S. non-profit, reported: “Girls who spend the most time using technology are five times more likely to say they are sad or depressed nearly every day.” Cyberbullying gives girls no reprieve from social complexities. 24/7 access to social media, email, and various websites provides a high rate of contact in the lives of teenage girls. Another study found, “Girls who engaged with technology the most were also the least likely to be involved in activities such as clubs, sports, band, music, and theater.”
Feminism and female activism must address the life-threatening social complexities of teenage girls. The right to life is more important than other topics such as abortion, equal pay, and healthcare access. Without experience, adolescent girls cannot exercise their right to equal pay, healthcare, and other topics of interest. What can be done to protect our girls? How can parents, communities, movers and shakers, government, churches, and organizations get involved to help our youth? This change can happen with grass-roots efforts. This change can start with you. Bringing more awareness of this topic and being a vessel to help teenage girls through open forums, trusted community resources, monitoring technology interactions, and limiting exposure to adverse social complexities can be the right place to start.
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