Today’s teens are facing a myriad of issues. While it is an exciting era in which to grow up, it is also filled with choices and decisions that are unique to this generation. Youth today are experiencing peer pressure on a grander scale than ever before. The consequences are especially evident among teenage girls.
Body dissatisfaction: Research shows that 37% of 11-year-old girls in Canada say that they need to lose weight. The number jumps to 48% by the age of 15. It is of little surprise that eating disorders are currently the third most common chronic illness among teenage girls.
Sexual activity: A recent Health Canada Study (Canadian Youth Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS) found that by grade eleven, 46% of teenage girls are sexually active. A shocking 8% have been pregnant. Additionally, STDs have increased in severity while knowledge about them has decreased.
Alcohol and drug use: Alcohol is the drug most commonly used and abused by teens, while marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in Canada. According to the Alberta Youth Experience Survey (2002) (PDF), 56% of youth in grades 7 to 12 have used alcohol in the last year, 16% have smoked cigarettes, and 28% have used marijuana. http://parent.aadac.com/what_ifs/what_if_child_tries_drugs.asp
The media: Teens spend on average six to eight hours with some type of media. Studies show that repeated exposure to media with sexual content may influence teens to have sex earlier. Young teens (ages 13 – 15) rank entertainment media as the top source of information about sexuality and sexual health. However, out of the roughly 140,000 references to sex a teen will see on TV each year, only a small fraction (165) will include any reference to abstinence, delay of sex, birth control, risk of pregnancy, or sexually transmitted disease. (American Academy of Pediatrics, Sexuality, Contraception and the Media, 2001)
As these and other statistics continue to escalate, God’s message of love, value, and grace must be conveyed to our teens above the noise of the media and our culture.