By Mike Perleberg
(Undated) - Being a girl in Indiana isn't always easy, according to a new study from Saint Mary’s College in South Bend.
The study, titled “The Status of Girls in Indiana 2013”, focused on the health and well-being of Hoosier girls ages 10 to 19. Saint Mary’s College President Carol A. Mooney, who ordered the study two years ago, hopes educators, policymakers, legislators, health professionals, and many others will use the information in the report.
“We know that early intervention is the key to successfully changing behaviors and attitudes. Awareness of both the achievements made in Indiana, and the opportunities that still exist to create a better environment for girls, will help us move forward in an informed way,” Mooney said.
Among the numerous findings: high school aged females in Indiana are more likely to be overweight than those in other states. About 18.5 percent of those girls were overweight in 2011, while 11.5 percent were considered obese.
As many as a third of female students in grades eight to ten say they feel sad or hopeless. About a fifth of eighth-grade girls reported having suicidal thoughts. The gloomy feelings typically reached a high point in ninth grade, when 33 percent of girls reported feelings of despair.
The emotional toll may have affect girls’ education. The report also found that young Hoosier females don’t succeed at the same rate as boys on most standardized tests.
Also, girls are also more likely to be the victims of bullying and sexual abuse than boys. In 2011, 28 percent of Indiana’s female high school students reported being bullied on school property. That same year, 14.5 percent of female high schoolers reported being raped.
In 2011, more than half of girls in grades nine through 12 admitted to having sexual intercourse at some point. Of the girls who reported being sexually active in 2011, 13 percent admitted that they did not use any contraception during their last sexual encounter.
Alcohol usage and prescription drug abuse was more common among girls in high school than boys in a month.
There were encouraging statistics provided in the Saint Mary’s College’s report, too. Sixteen person of Indiana’s female students had used marijuana at least once, compared to boys who had used the drug at a 23 percent clip in the past month.
Indiana girls watch significantly less television than girls nationwide. Twenty-seven percent of Indiana’s high school girls reported watching television for three or more hours per day.
The complete “The Status of Girls in Indiana 2013” is available online at https://cwil.saintmarys.edu/status-girls-indiana.