Teens are struggling — and we’re not doing enough to help them. That’s the clear message from a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC’s biannual Youth Risk Behavior Survey offers a heartbreaking and, for parents, terrifying glimpse at the state of teens’ mental health, especially among teenage girls. The trend began before the pandemic but seemed to have been exacerbated by the isolation of the early Covid years.
The findings of the report are so striking that Kathleen Ethier, director of the CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health, which released the survey, was overwhelmed when she sat down to read it.
Among the most troubling statistics: Nearly 60% of teenage girls surveyed said they’d experienced “persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness” in the previous year, while 30% had seriously considered suicide. Some 18% said they’d experienced sexual violence in the past year and 14% had been forced to have sex. The survey also showed similar declines in the mental health of LGBTQ teens.
Numbers like these are a code-red emergency — not only for parents, but for educators and policy makers.