By Terri Dee
Indiana News Service
INDIANA — A new report focuses on “girl power” in Indiana – with an analysis of how young girls are faring in the state, and recommendations for improving their lives.
Using Kids Count data, the Girl Coalition of Indiana found girls under 18 are experiencing trauma and mental-health concerns at rates higher than boys – from bullying and depression, to dating violence and a lack of emotional support.
In one survey, eight in 10 girls said neighbors “don’t notice” or encourage them when they do a good job. Mackenzie Pickerrell, executive director of the coalition, described the purpose of sharing these findings.
“Being deeply embedded into communities to understand from their perspective,” said Pickerrell, “what girls need to thrive, and what are the barriers for their girls to live their best lives.”
The coalition plans to create programming in partnership with the six Indiana Girl Scout councils to make headway on some of the areas of concern.
This first-ever “Indiana Girl Report” was compiled in collaboration with the Indiana Youth Institute. It’s available online here.
Other findings in the report: In 2022, Indiana’s middle and high school girls reported feeling a sense of hopelessness or depression for two weeks or longer. One in four “seriously considered” suicide.
Girls are twice as likely to be victims of traditional bullying, and three times as likely to face cyberbullying, compared to boys. Pickerrell noted what could be one reason behind these statistics.
“Girls experience mental and emotional pressures at a much higher rate,” said Pickerrell, “and a very different reality than boys do.”
She added that the report produced some positive data as well. Girls in Indiana are achieving academically at a stronger pace than boys, including higher high school graduation rates.
They’re more likely to obtain advanced degrees. And nine out of ten girls say they have at least one caring adult or mentor in their lives, other than their parents.