US Teenage Girls Report Highest Level of Sexual Assault, Stress in 10 Years: Report

Teenage girls in the US are reeling from the highest level of distress in a decade, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.

According to the latest CDC data, nearly three in five U.S. teenage girls reported feeling hopeless in 2021 — nearly twice that of the nation’s teenage boys.

In addition, the number of reported sexual assault cases and suicide risk cases among teenage girls in the US increased in the same year.

The U.S. CDC reported in its Youth Risk Behavior Survey that at least one in 10 high school students said they were forced to have sex — a 27% increase since a 2019 survey.

In addition, a third of girls in a survey said they were considering taking their own life – a 60% increase since 2011.

The CDC, which has conducted the youth survey every two years for three decades, collects the responses of high school students.

CDC’s key findings on US teens:

  • 57% of teenage girls reported feeling sad or hopeless in 2021
  • 30% reported contemplating suicide
  • 18% have experienced sexual violence
  • 14% reported having been forced to have sex at some point.

Further, the CDC data underscored rising levels of stress among LGBTQ teens. More than one in five LGBTQ teens reported attempting suicide in the past year.

Other recent reports have also found worsening rates of depression and anxiety among young LGBTQ people in the US at a time when nearly one in five high school students do not identify as heterosexual.

The survey results showed that Covid has also seriously affected the mental health of teenagers. Overall, more than 40% of high school students reported feeling so sad or hopeless that they were unable to participate in their regular activities for at least two weeks, according to the CDC.

Last year, the US Preventive Services Task Force, an independent expert panel that guides US health recommendations, said all children ages 8 and older should be screened for anxiety.

Addressing the US teen mental health crisis:

Addressing the mental health crisis has become a priority for the Biden administration in America. In January 2023, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded nearly $245 million in Bipartisan Safer Communities Act funding to support youth mental health programs.

In addition, the City of Seattle school district has filed a new lawsuit against Alphabet Inc., Facebook’s parent company Meta Platforms Inc. and other tech companies claiming that social media contributes to college students’ anxiety, depression, and other psychological problems. Similar claims were made last year by families of distressed children.

Alphabet has responded to the Seattle lawsuit by saying it is invested in creating safe experiences for children and is prioritizing their well-being.

Meanwhile, the US CDC said it is helping schools create more support services and educational programs to teach students about sexual consent and managing emotions. The agency works with school districts across the country to create inclusive education programs.

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US Teenage Girls Report Highest Level of Sexual Assault, Stress in 10 Years: Report

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