Friday, February 10, 2017

Latest Edition of The State of Girls Unveiled on Capitol Hill

On Thursday, February 9, Girl Scouts launched The State of Girls 2017: Emerging Truths and Troubling Trends, the third edition of The State of Girls, which addresses national- and state-level trends across key indicators affecting girls’ overall well-being. The lead researcher, Kamla Modi, PhD, Girl Scout Research Institute, unveiled the report before a packed room in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill, sharing its findings about girls and their needs and current status in the United States.

Among findings is the suggestion that, regardless of an increase in high school graduation rates, economic conditions affecting girls in the United States have not fully recovered from the Great Recession. These conditions are leading to increased emotional and physical distress among girls, with obesity, marijuana use, and low self-esteem on the rise.

Also at Thursday’s briefing for congressional staff, Girl Scouts of the Nation’s Capital program manager Mankaa Ngwa-Suh shared how the Girl Scout Leadership Experience can be a solution to many of the issues addressed in the report, while Girl Scout Ambassador Summer Berry from Martinsburg, West Virginia, discussed how Girl Scouts’ STEM programming has enriched her life.

A closer look at The State of Girls data reveals the following:

Health and Well-Being: Girls are struggling with obesity, marijuana use, and emotional health.
  • Obesity rates have increased for girls ages 2 to 19, from 15.9 percent in 2008 to 17.2 percent in 2014.
  • More girls are trying marijuana; about 37 percent of high school girls had ever tried marijuana in 2015, an increase from 34 percent in 2007.
  • Girls’ emotional health is at risk—a higher proportion of high school girls seriously considered suicide in 2015 (23 percent), compared to 2007 (19 percent). 

Demographics: The face of the American girl is changing.

  • American girls are more racially and ethnically diverse today than before the recession. About half of U.S. girls are white, and a quarter are Latina.
  • One-fourth (26 percent) of all school-age girls in the United States are a first- or second-generation immigrant. This number has risen since 2007 (when it was 23 percent).

Economics: Poverty rates for girls have risen since 2007.

  • In 2015, 19 percent of girls ages 5 to 17 lived in poverty, compared to 17 percent in 2007. Poverty rates increased for girls across all racial and ethnic groups.
  • In 2015, American Indian girls were the most likely to live in poverty (33 percent), followed by black girls (31 percent), Latinas (29 percent), multiracial girls (13 percent), Asian American girls (13 percent), and white girls (12 percent).

Education: More girls are graduating from high school.

  • The high school dropout rate has decreased for girls in recent years, particularly Latina girls.
    • In 2007, 8 percent of girls and women ages 16 to 24 had dropped out of high school, but by 2014, that figure decreased to 6 percent.
    • Latina youth experienced the largest decline in dropout rates during the same 2007–2014 period, from 18 percent to 9 percent.

States Where Girls Thrive*

  • New Hampshire
  • Utah
  • Minnesota
  • Vermont
  • South Dakota

States Where Girls Struggle*
  • Nevada
  • Tennessee
  • Louisiana
  • New Mexico
  • Mississippi

The silver lining in the report? Higher graduation rates means girls want to learn, and they want opportunities. The report found in areas of the country where girls are faring the best, Girl Scouts, which can serve to bolster and reinforce academic achievement, also has a robust presence.

We’re committed to expanding our presence in girls’ lives nationwide, for giving all girls opportunities to achieve—no matter what obstacles they face—is at the heart of Girl Scouts.