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GB reacts to Good Childhood report

31 Aug 2018

This year’s Good Childhood Report from The Children’s Society – a survey of over 2,000 10-17 year olds in England – has just been released. Read on for GB's response to it.

What are the key findings?

The report demonstrates the deteriorating state of children’s mental health in 3 areas:

  1. Children are becoming unhappier – with pressure to fit in with society’s expectations cited as a main reason
  2. As a result, an alarming number of children are engaging with self-harm – it's estimated that twice as many girls self-harm as boys
  3. Evidence shows that gender stereotypes are damaging to children’s well-being.

Worryingly the report shows that girls are more likely to be unhappy with their life, have symptoms of depression and engage with self-harming behaviours.

What do you think are the main reasons for this?

From listening to our members at different events and from questions coming into Girls’ Brigade’s award-winning koko website, a vlog exploring the issues that girls are facing, it's evident that young people - particularly girls - do feel under pressure for a number of reasons:

  • They live in a culture which constantly reminds them they're not enough and that judges their worth lies solely in their physical appearance
  • Body image anxiety is being escalated by the unrealistic airbrushed images of beauty which they're bombarded with in the media
  • Social media can also encourage girls to seek approval from others, self-objectify themselves in photos and fuels dissatisfaction as they compare their lives to others ‘curated’ online profiles
  • They feel pressure to conform to gender stereotypes which are limiting to them – boys are aware that they're meant to be seen as tough and unemotional and girls have told us that they feel pressure to be girly, study certain subjects and play certain sports.

The impact of GB

GB’s Advocacy Co-ordinator Dr Claire Rush shares ‘Instead of being paralysed by these negative statistics, they also present an opportunity to Christian faith communities to turn up the volume of Gospel hope among this generation of girls and young women.

‘Girls’ Brigade is helping girls flourish and be all that God created them to be. Through our innovative programme materials and our thousands of incredible, passionate leaders, girls are developing the confidence, resilience and leadership skills to make a difference in their communities. Girls have told us that as a result of belonging to GB, they feel more courageous, loved and accepted. Just check out the #iamgb film.’

Chloe Twist who participated in the 2018 Esther Generation Weekend shares ‘Girls’ Brigade has improved my mental well-being because it has given me a wonderful support network which surrounds me.’

How can we help a young person who is going through a period of self-harm?

Self-harm is when someone has the intention of hurting or wounding their body to cause a physical pain. It's often related to emotional pain, which is difficult to express. It's important to remember that self-harm itself is not the problem; self-harm is merely the symptom that indicates there is a problem. The NSPCC provides some great advice about self-harm for young people, parents and carers.

How can we continue to support girls to thrive and flourish?

There are a number of GB programme resources on the issue of mental health available for GB leaders to use - helping them turn up the volume of hope with the children and young people they work with. You can view a comprehensive list here

Don’t forget to equip yourself too. As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, GB England & Wales launched a new Culture Check-Up vlog inspiring leaders to continue to engage with the issue of mental health. Watch it here

Tune into TWR-UK at 8pm on Saturday 1 September to hear Claire unpack some of the key findings of the survey as well as how GB is turning up the volume of hope amongst girls in this area. See here for more details about how to listen.

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