New study sheds light on issues surrounding Indiana girls

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It's something you don't hear every day, a study specifically highlighting the status of Hoosier girls between the ages of 10 and 19.

Saint Mary's College just released their findings Thursday after more than a year of work.

That 60-page report is called "The Status of Girls in Indiana 2013". It looks at girls statewide and addresses topics like demographics, education, substance and alcohol abuse and more.

Folks gathered at Saint Mary's Student Center to hear about all of the work that went behind this study. Many in the room are no stranger to statistics involving women, but they say some of what this study found was shocking.

For example, in 2011, 14.5 percent of high school girls reported being raped.

In 2011, nearly 112,000 girls between six and 17 lived in poverty. Out of this number, almost half are African American.

A survey from 2012 shows one-third of female students in grades eighth through tenth reported feeling sad or hopeless. In 8th grade specifically, about 20 percent of girls considered suicide, about 14 percent planned it and almost 12 percent attempted it at least once.

"Personally I'm shocked by the serious mental health issues that Indiana girls face. Suicide rates and depression are statistically higher compared to at least 35 other states," says Saint Mary's College President Carol Mooney.

"It is our hope that with this comprehensive report it will be used as a tool for future strides in protecting and equipping girls so they can become healthy adults who nurture their own family," adds YWCA of North Central Indiana President and CEO Linda Baechle.

This is only step one of this groups research. They plan on conducting other studies and looking more specifically into certain areas of their research.

After these findings were released, St. Margaret's House felt the call the action. The executive director of St. Margaret's House was one of the expert reviewers of the report and says they have free classes that could help with these statistics.

She says they offer classes like parenting, building self-esteem and defeating stress. According to one of the teachers, the ultimate goal is improving the way parents care for their kids.

They say if a parent doesn't feel good about themselves they will not feel good about their children. It's that low self-esteem that could impact your child in a negative way.

"You see that everyday in the news, everyday single day in the news. Whether its suicide which is the ultimate or depression," says Assistant Director Patricia Marvel.

One woman who has been attending these classes says they are working.

"Well, a year and a half ago, when I came in here, I didn't have a home. I was involved with child protective services, so my self-esteem, what I did have, just kind of went to the way-side and I have been able to build that back," says Robbie Carmon.

Carmon says she has learned little tricks to do with her kids to help keep that high self-esteem. For example, telling each other they will have a good day or leaving notes that make them feel good. Carmon also says it's important to keep lines of communication open.

"Just to have a support system especially with your parents because you are there every day all day and they should be able to feel comfortable to tell you what going on at school, or in their activities or even in your own family," adds Carmon.

She says it's about knowing there will be bad days, but having the ability, through these classes, to work through it a build each other back up.

If you are interested in participating in one of these classes or have questions about other classes they have to offer, here is the St. Margaret's House website.

Here is a link to the full, "The Status of Girls in Indiana 2013" report.