Call them Generation Z, iGEN or Post-Millenials — nearly 2 out of 3 (63%) kids ages 8-18 say they currently face an issue in life that threatens their personal, positive self-image. More than a third (37 percent) of kids in elementary school say bullying is a threat to their self-image compared to 26 percent of middle school students and 20 percent of those in high school. Girls are more likely to say that issues with body image and unrealistic images of men and women in the media affect their personal, positive self-image.
This youth survey of 1,133 boys and girls ages 8-18 was conducted online by Harris Poll for Girls Empowerment Network. Sixty-nine percent of girls (more than 2 out of 3) and 58 percent of boys ages 8-18 say there are issues that threaten their personal, positive self-image including body image (25%), bullying (25%), and unrealistic images of men and women in the media (19%), as well as poor school performance (18%), poor relationships with peers (19%) or parents (16%), issues with their mental health (15%), drug and alcohol use (13%), among others.
Issues with body image emerge in tween girls ages 10-12, with nearly 1 in 4 (24%) saying that it threatens their personal positive self-image. One in three girls ages 8-18 say issues with their body image (35% vs. 15% of boys) and unrealistic images of women and men in the media (32% vs. 6% of boys) are threats they currently face. Among older teen girls, some heavier issues become more significant threats to their positive self-image, including mental health issues (35% of girls ages 16-18) and poor relationships with one or both of their parents (32% of teen girls ages 16-18).
Girls Empowerment Network was formed 20 years ago to find solutions to the dramatic decline in self-esteem that affects girls as they enter puberty. Our annual We Are Girls conference is especially for girls 8-13 and adults who care about them. We fill the day with activities, great role models and teachers for girls and adults, then let them get close, ask questions and leave excited and inspired. These years are a critical time to inspire them and introduce new skills they will use as they mature, such as how to set goals and have healthy friendships at school.
When it comes to positive role models, singer Taylor Swift wins the hearts of most girls, with 53 percent of girls ages 8-18 saying she is a positive role model to girls under 18, followed closely by First Lady Michelle Obama (49%). Other role model choices preferred by girls 8-18 are Ellen DeGeneres (39%) , J.K. Rowling (36%), Malala Yousafzai (34%), Jennifer Lawrence (34%), Selena Gomez (33%), Oprah Winfrey (32%); Kate Middleton (30%); and Demi Lovato (30%); Hillary Rodham Clinton (22%); Amy Schumer (11%); Carly Fiorina (10%); and Kim Kardashian (4%).
Through after-school clubs, programs and community workshops for girls and parents, Girls Empowerment Network (also known as GEN) supports and guides girls to make wise choices as they navigate the unique pressures of girlhood. GEN created We Are Girls in 2008 to expand its services that empower girls and their parents to navigate the challenges of girlhood. WE ARE GIRLS – TELL YOUR STORY is Saturday, November 14, 2015, at sites in both Houston and Austin, Texas. Designed especially for girls and the adults who care about them, the one-day conference is for girls ages 8 -13, giving them a full day inspiring them with hands-on activities and introducing them to role models in business, arts, science and more.