July, 20 2018

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A tale of two very different teen days

Modern society is "nurturing a generation of disturbed female teenagers" says a survey out today.

Bullying, school work and the need to conform to ideal body standards are leading to emotional problems for the region's girls according to the results of the Bliss Teen Emotional Health Survey 2005.

And only 10pc of girls in the North-East say they are very happy with life with 15pc saying they are miserable.

But despite this the region's TEENS are more likely to think they can cope with the pressures of modern life - 60pc opposed to the national average of 50pc.

Mother and daughter Sarah Richard, 46, and Laura, 18, from Corbridge, Northumberland, have vastly differing experiences of being a teenager.

Sarah, an early years and childcare manager for Northumberland County Council, went to a BOARDING SCHOOL in Lemington Spa in the early 1970s. Divorced 11 years ago, she also has a son David, 19.

She says the naughtiest thing she got up to as a teenager was eating chocolate in midnight feasts. She did not drink alcohol until she went to university, and then not to excess.

Sarah describes herself as a happy teenager. "I thoroughly enjoyed my school days. I had a great group of friends and perhaps unusually for an all-GIRLS BOARDING SCHOOL didn't encounter any bullying at all.

"Looking good wasn't really a consideration - we all wanted to buy the latest flares and cheesecloth shirts but I never felt that I was unattractive or didn't fit in."

Laura, an A-level pupil at Hexham's Queen Elizabeth High School has also been happy and has not experienced any bullying - as opposed to the 73pc uncovered in the survey - but she knows others who have.

"I think sometimes girls can be the worst bullies - they can be quite bitchy and pick on people." she says.

"I don't feel under pressure to be thin but I do like to look nice. I do know of girls who have had anorexia and I think images in the media and magazines certainly don't help."

One thing which differs greatly between mother and daughter is their experiences of drink and drugs. According to the survey over a third of the region's teenagers drink alcohol every week.

Sarah says: "I didn't come across anyone who had taken drugs in my whole time at school - but that may have been unusual.

"My first drink apart from the odd glass of wine or beer at home was when I went to visit my older brother at university. But I didn't get drunk - there wasn't that culture of drinking there is now."

Alcohol has played a bigger part in Laura's growing up. "I had my first proper drink at about 14. That's not unusual and a lot of children start drinking even earlier.

"But my friends and I take care of ourselves and will not get ourselves into a state, although we do enjoy going out and drinking. Also I'd say around 40pc of my peer group have had some experience with drugs."

Laura, who is studying geography, English language and sociology says: "I want to go to university and it is important, but I do not feel under too much strain except near exam time."

Neither mother or daughter is surprised by the statistic that 77pc of 14-year-old girls have had a boyfriend or that 14pc have had sex.

"People first started getting boyfriends around the age of 14 and 15 and they became sexually active around 16 and 17," recalls Sarah.

In Laura's experience this happened earlier, but not by much. "People started getting boyfriends when they were around 13 and having sex when they were 15, although that's not everyone.

"I feel life is definitely harder for children these days than it was previously. There are more pressures in terms of what you are expected to live up to.

"I think the girls that are aged 12 now are starting to feel it in particular - they speak about their boyfriends and going to discos. That's just so young."

Newcastle University psychologist Joan Harvey, who is in her 50s and has a teenage son, says that teenage girls of any generation are likely to feel pressure because of their heightened emotional states.

Pressures to look good and taunting among peer groups is nothing new, she claims.

"Being a teenager is a very difficult time for anyone and this is not something which is unique to this generation. Something which is relatively new is teenagers being asked a lot of questions about their lives and these surveys being compiled.

"Of course there are different pressures on this generation, but a lot of them have been exaggerated.

"For example there has always been a pressure to conform to a way of looking or an ideal, prescribed attractiveness. This is not something new although it may have slightly increased.

"One thing which I would say has increased is exam pressure. The number of people going to university has increased dramatically over the years and this increase inevitably leads to more exam stress as more and more take A-levels."


North-East results

36pc of teenage girls come from a broken home - UK average 32pc

Only 62pc live with both their mum and dad - UK average 63pc

97pc think the main reason teenage girls feel down is because "there's too much pressure to look good and have a great body" - UK average 94pc

41pc think other people "expect too much of them" - UK average 32pc

73pc say they have been bullied - UK average 67pc

36pc say they have been bullied by their friends - UK average 33pc

94pc say they have been verbally taunted - UK average 88pc

60pc say they can cope with the pressures of modern life - UK average 50pc

Related Articles:
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Raising great kids: 5 concepts parents should keep in mind 2/21/05
$70,000 sends troubled teens to school for help 2/20/05
Kids call her 'Mom'; parents call her a blessing 2/20/05
Far from home, former N.C. prep star shining 2/20/05
creative ways to change children's behavior 2/20/05
Fostering Requires Firm Rules and a Warm Heart 2/19/05
Complaints of abuse prompt probe 2/17/05
The other face of meth 2/11/05
Teens Protest City's Funding Cut To Teen Center 2/9/05

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