July 14, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - "When I was 11, I read a teenage magazine for the first time and that is when it kind of clicked, 'I should be like this'," says one young girl surveyed in a study by Girlguiding UK and the Mental Health Foundation, that has revealed three leading potential "triggers" for serious mental health problems in girls: premature sexualisation, commercialisation and alcohol misuse.
More generally, the report reveals a loss of childhood innocence and says girls today experience high levels of "stress, anxiety and unhappiness". The study found that premature sexualisation and pressure to grow up too quickly are two "key influences" in the anxiety felt by girls.
"Sexual advances from boys, pressure to wear clothes that make them look too old and magazines and websites directly targeting younger girls to lose weight or consider plastic surgery were identified as taking a particular toll," the report says.
Dr. Andrew McCulloch, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation which worked on the study, said, "Girls and young women are being forced to grow up at an unnatural pace in a society that we, as adults, have created and it's damaging their emotional well-being."
"We are forcing our young people to grow up too quickly and not giving them the spaces and experiences they require to be safe and confident. We are creating a generation under stress." (more)