The pandemic impacts us all differently. But do we all have a voice?
“We wanted to get a handle on what was happening in the world of girls,” Dr. Lisa Hinkelman said.
Dr. Hinkelman realized the public was missing an opportunity to hear from young people whose normalcy like sports, school, graduations and proms had been ripped away. Hinkelman is the founder of Ruling Our Experiences (ROX), an organization that helps to create generations of confident girls who control their relationships, experiences and decisions. The organization wanted to know how COVID-19 was impacting them.
“In my mind, it was we really need to not make assumptions about what we think is happening for girls and we need to actually ask them,” she said.
In May, shortly after stay-at-home orders were in place, ROX deployed surveys to states including Ohio, Michigan, California and Texas. Almost 1,300 surveys were given to girls ranging from fifth grade to twelfth grade.
Those results recently came back.
More than half of those surveyed, 52 percent, are thinking differently about their futures with nearly 60 percent having fear or uncertainty regarding their future.
Eighty percent of girls surveyed say they feel more lonely and isolated. Almost 60 percent reported difficulty with academic executive functioning skills like organization and concentration. Almost half of those surveyed say their stress levels have been amplified at 42 percent.
“What do you fear could happen in terms of their ability to develop, mentally, if we don’t address this now,” 10TV News Reporter Bryant Somerville asked Dr. Hinkelman.
“I think that we put a generation of girls at risk for negative outcomes,” she said.
Dr. Hinkelman says teens are paying attention and they consume news in a variety of ways, like through social media and their parents, all of which, she says can shape ideas and fears. Young girls, though, she says, create much of their self-worth based on relationships with others.
“So, this isolation for girls is detrimental because it’s removing them from that social sphere and structure where they find comfort and identity,” Dr. Hinkelman said.
Hinkelman encourages parents to include their teens in conversations and decisions as they relate to COVID-19. Also, urge them to get creative with friends; chat online, go for a bike ride or a socially distant picnic.
“Contributing to the isolation contributes to increased levels of depression and anxiety in girls,” Dr. Hinkelman said.