New reports unveil unchecked crisis among Florida girls
Disconnect between current needs and interventions contributes to systemic and youth failures
This collection of research studies commmissioned by the Florida Women's Funding Alliance, an Affinity Group of FPN, and conducted by the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center have uncovered significant rates of violence and victimization among certain segments of girls in their communities, particularly girls of color and those identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual or unsure. Girls living in rural areas also experienced more reports of bullying, less access to a safe parent or teacher and an increased frequency of below average or failing grades. The findings are relevant to resolving chronic failures by child-serving systems and organizations and to address teen substance abuse, sexual and commercial trafficking exploitation, suicide and other poor health and justice outcomes.
The two-part Status of Florida Girls research reports are the first nationwide to identify Florida’s most vulnerable girls -– not just broad trends— by disaggregating a broad spectrum of child well-being data at the intersection of gender, geography and race/ethnicity. The reports examined educational attainment and disparities, as well as girls’ overall well-being in relation to school connectedness; safety; access to safe adults including parents and teachers; freedom from violence and victimization in their homes, schools, and communities; and emotional well-being. National and state data that were analyzed include those from the U.S. Census Bureau, Center for Disease Control’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, Florida Department of Education, Florida Department of Children and Families, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, as well as survey data of 27,000 girls in middle and high schools collected by the Florida Department of Health. It was funded by the Florida Women’s Funding Alliance, an affinity group of Florida Philanthropic Network.
Overall, while most Florida girls are faring well, significant numbers are suffering serious traumas and safety compromises. Findings include:
- One in 10 girls report having been raped, although there are differences by race/ethnicity: 20% of Native Hawaiian, 17% of American Indian/Native American, 9% of White, 9% of Hispanic, 8% of African American and 3 % of Asian girls report forced sexual intercourse experiences.
- Regardless of whether they were in middle or high school, 13% of girls do not feel safe in their neighborhood; one in three do not feel safe in school. — more — 2
- Two in three girls in high school reported being verbally bullied (63%); nearly one in three have experienced physical bullying (30%); and one in three have experienced cyber bullying (35%).
- One in five girls (18%) in school (compared to 10% of boys) has seriously contemplated attempting suicide. This rises to one in three girls who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or unsure of her sexual orientation.
- More than one in three girls experience depression (38%) compared to 18% of their male peers.