With all the attention on pay equity for women and the “Me Too” movement, I got to thinking about how our next generation of girls are being raised and how comfortable they are with themselves. After all, young women under the age of seventeen make up one-fifth of Canada’s female population.
As a first step, I went looking to see just how girls are faring when it comes to social and emotional health, overall development, and how their situations compare to those of young boys.
It didn’t take long to find The Girl Child, part of a gender-based report released by Statistics Canada last year, in which some early signs of well-being differences between girls and boys are clearly documented.
Among other things, researchers reported that our girls are more likely than boys to report high levels of daily stress. As the mom of three daughters, I was shocked to find it’s up to double the rate observed among boys during their teenage years. Also, girls are reportedly more likely to live with a diagnosed mood or anxiety disorder—like depression, bipolar disorder, mania and dysthymia, or an anxiety disorder such as a panic disorder or OCD—than boys of the same age.
Certainly something to look into further and think about; for parents, educators, and healthcare providers. As I see it: If our girls don’t get a better start, with the best treatment possible when it’s needed, we’re putting them at risk for futures that aren’t quite as bright as they should be.
Caroline Tapp-McDougall, Editor