This month another set of statistics hit my desk that made me flinch and know for certain we are in the right space at the right time.
In the past year suicides among teen girls have risen by a third; the number of teens dealing with depression and anxiety has shot up by 75% in 25 years and in the last decade there has been a 54% rise in the number of under 18’s prescribed antidepressants.
Key issues leading up to this sad state of affairs from the girl’s perspective include the pressures of social media, the unattainable definition of beauty, sexism, lack of visible role models across all sections of our society, unwanted sexual attention, slut shaming and grooming. It breaks my heart when I consider the challenges our girls face on a daily basis and NO it really was not like this for many of us as we entered our teen years. Anyone over 30 will struggle to find many similarities with their world today. This is a generation who have grown up with Smart phones, internet porn, reality TV, easy access to drugs and alcohol, high youth unemployment, even higher university fees, sexualised imagery EVERYWHERE, confusion around consent and sexual identity, and an insatiable appetite for celebrity and instant fame.
Unless we show them a different way, teach them to value their uniqueness, say no to anything or anyone that disrespects them and get them excited at the opportunities ahead of them we can expect more of the same. Role models are so important in this story along with investment in non academic learning including resilience, confidence, emotional intelligence, self-respect and aspiration.
In the past 12 months we have seen a move away from these key character building traits as the focus on academic outcomes is ramped up and schools feel the pressure to focus all their time, resources and attention on getting pupils to pass exams. Whilst I am not opposed to academic achievement and I recognise its importance, to side step the rest is simply storing up problems and will not end well.
In terms of life lessons emotional resilience trumps academic prowess EVERYTIME!
Enjoy the summer!