They surveyed 350 girls between the ages of 10 and 15 and held focus groups with 54 girls between the ages of 10 and 14.
One of the things they found was that:
a quarter know someone who has taken illegal drugs, while two-fifths have experienced someone drinking too much alcohol.
Overall, stable and supportive families and friendship groups were seen as the most important factor in helping girls become resilient to mental health problems. Having someone to talk to who would not judge you – whether that be a mother, teacher, or other supportive adult – was seen to be critically important.
The report goes on to say:
The pressure from magazines and websites directly targeting young girls with messages that they should aspire be thin, take drugs and even have plastic surgery was mentioned by several. Feeling obliged to be in situations where they might be offered alcohol or drugs was a further concern.
The report concludes with a list of things a panel of Girl Guides suggest:
- Give girls things to do: from adventure playgrounds to kung fu or street dancing.
- Create safe places where girls can have freedom without parents worrying.
- Boost confidence by giving girls opportunities to succeed outside school.
- Encourage girls to try something new.
- Make girls feel normal and accepted – whatever problems they might have.
- Don’t overwhelm them with advice – give them space.
- Help them understand that they can’t always help the way they feel.
- Initiate a young mayor scheme – giving girls a say in important decisions.
- Make information about where to turn for help easily available.
- Use the Girlguiding UK website to offer advice and support.