Survey points to what worries teens

A survey released yesterday by the Pew Research Center found that many teens see anxiety and depression as major issues among their peers, the New York Times reports.

Another major stressor is constant surveillance by peers on social media, and the “fear of missing out” it can generate, the paper quoted Philip Kendall, director of the Child and Adolescent Anxiety Disorders Clinic at Temple University in Philadelphia, as saying. Again, he said, guidance about how to understand social media—for example, a person taking 50 photos to get one perfect image—can help to dispel anxiety.

The study also found that about 61 percent of teens say they feel a lot of pressure to get good grades. The final report, however, did not list concerns about being sexually assaulted as one of teens’ primary stressors, but that doesn’t mean high school students don’t think about it.

One senior at Antioch Community High School in Illinois wrote an Advanced Placement research paper on the subject of sexism in superhero films. She’s learned about how media impacts society’s views of rape and rape culture, wrote Shannon Price in Sequoit Media, the student newspaper at the school.

Ms Price quotes another student as saying that people tend to sweep accusations of rape and sexual assault under the rug in the “rape culture” in which we live, where blaming the victim often takes precedence over fixing the problem and bringing rapists to justice.

By denying that the event actually occurred or shifting the blame to the victim, society is allowing for potential rapists to justify their actions. Whether it comes from a digital media platform or a personal interaction, normalization and glorification of rape culture leads to an increased amount of violence.

Some insight into what else might scare teens comes from a “Dear Diary” series on 9News (NBC affiliate, Denver). The station asked a few teens to record their thoughts on video, and although results largely parallel the current study, the videos are compelling.

  • “Every time at a family gathering, it’s like, ‘Have you decided where you’re going to college yet? What are you going to major in in college? Where are you going to go?'”
  • “So the biggest fear I have in life, is honestly, the feeling of being left out, like by my friends.”

Although it’s possible that the increased reporting of teen anxiety is due in part to better screening procedures used in schools and among mental health professionals, about twice as many children and adolescents sought professional help for thoughts of suicide or self-harm in 2015 as in 2008. That is a cause for concern, whatever the contributing factors may have been.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources.

About the Author

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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