Florida’s most vulnerable girls suffer from high rates of violence and victimization, according to a new study.
The report, published by the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center, found that girls of color, living in rural areas, or who don’t identify as heterosexual are more likely to be bullied and have poorer grades.
One in 10 girls have been raped, nearly one in five have contemplated suicide and two in three high school-aged girls have been verbally bullied, according to the research. Additionally, one in three don’t feel safe in school.
Dr. Lawanda Ravoira, CEO and president of the Policy Center, said girls become more likely to act out as these traumas compound. This often leaves systems incapable of properly caring for girls — like juvenile justice and child services — left to try to help them.
“Every day we see girls with serious unaddressed mental health issues related to violence and victimization who end up locked away in detention centers where their needs are being exacerbated,” Vanessa Patino Lydia, an executive within the center and co-author of the reports, said in press release.
Roy Miller, president of The Children’s Campaign, challenged Florida’s leaders to do a better job of creating programs that can better help these girls.
“The Status of Girls reports are a renewed call to action to move beyond ineffective programs and services and chaotic turnover and turmoil base policy and service on needs rather than controlling unwanted behavior,” Miller said.
Approximately 27,000 girls in middle and high schools were surveyed in this study. The Florida Women’s Giving Alliance, an affinity group of Florida Philanthropic Network, funded the research.