Latest “Status of Girls in Wisconsin” report reveals troubling patterns

October 30, 2014

Some improvements noted as well in Alverno College 2014 report

The latest “Status of Girls in Wisconsin” report from the Alverno College Research Center for Women and Girls reveals a number of persistent, troubling patterns for Wisconsin girls, especially in the areas of stress, depression and suicide; bullying; TV, online and social media engagement; and weight and exercise. Yet, the 2014 report did note some improvement in areas including sexual activity, teen birth rates and smoking. This is the third report on the status of girls in Wisconsin as part of Alverno’s continued commitment to raise awareness regarding issues and challenges that impact girls in our state. The first report was released in 2007, with an update in 2010. The 2014 report focuses on girls (in most cases ages 10-19) across the state of Wisconsin. Data are drawn from various sources compiled and analyzed by the Alverno College Research Center for Women and Girls research team. Some of the key 2014 findings include: Stress, depression, suicide and harmful behaviors • One-third of girls in Wisconsin reported symptoms of depression. • Girls in Wisconsin reported higher rates of considering suicide and making a suicide plan compared to boys. Bullying • More than a quarter (27 percent) of girls report being victimized by bullying. • An equal number of girls (27 percent) under the age of 15 report the highest incidences of cyberbullying. TV, online and social media engagement • Nearly a quarter of Wisconsin high school girls watch three or more hours of TV per day on an average school day. • The rates of girls playing video or computer games for three or more hours per day have more than doubled since 2011 (35 percent in 2013 vs. 16 percent in 2011). • Nationally, 81 percent of online adolescents report using social media. Up to 90 percent of adolescents are posting personal information including photos of themselves. Weight and exercise • More than half (60 percent) of high school girls in Wisconsin reported that they attempted to lose weight. • Less than half of all high school girls in Wisconsin report that they are physically active at least five days a week. The report also noted some encouraging news including: • The number of Wisconsin high school girls having sexual intercourse is down to 37 percent in 2013 from 40 percent in 2007. • Teen birth rates have declined steadily over the past 20 years. In 2012, the birth rate (per 1,000 females) for those ages 15-19 in Wisconsin was approximately 22, a 6 percent decrease from 2011. • Smoking is on the decline for high school girls both in Wisconsin and nationally, and Wisconsin high school girls continue to report smoking at lower rates than boys. In 2013 the percentage of high schools girls who reported smoking was about 10 percent, while around 14 percent of boys reported smoking. On the topic of education, a slightly higher percentage of girls (90 percent) in Wisconsin public schools graduated with a regular high school diploma during the 2012-13 school year compared to boys (86 percent), but Wisconsin girls still lag behind boys in mathematics and science at the advanced level. The “Status of Girls in Wisconsin” report provides information, without extensive interpretation, to serve as a catalyst for young women and girls and the agencies that serve them to voice their perspectives on the issues and challenges they face and work to develop the solutions, programming and resources needed to address these issues. The report is still the most comprehensive consolidation of information about the issues facing girls in our state. Several universities and colleges nationwide have followed Alverno College’s lead in presenting data to improve the lives of girls. The full 2014 “Status of Girls in Wisconsin” report, as well as an executive summary, can be found at www. alverno.edu/research/statusofgirls.