The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) called on schools to help prevent and reduce the negative impact of violence and other trauma on teens, as it released a report  finding dramatic increases in mental health challenges for teenage girls. The report found nearly 3 in 5 teen girls felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021, double the rate for boys and a nearly 60% increase over the highest level recorded in the past decade.

Nearly 1 in 3 teenage girls seriously considered attempting suicide, also marking a 60% increase from a decade ago. And 1 in 5 said they had experienced sexual violence in the past year, with more than 1 in 10 teen girls experiencing rape.

In light of the data, the CDC said school-based activities “can make a profound difference in the lives of teens with a relatively small infusion of support to schools.”

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey data — collected in fall 2021 when most schools had returned to in-person instruction — is the first of its kind to be collected since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC noted that the time spent outside of school during the pandemic may have impacted the outcomes for many students. 

The new data showed high and worsening levels of persistent sadness or hopelessness spanned across racial and ethnic groups. But it also found some episodes of violence had increased for certain groups. 

The proportion of youth who did not go to school because of safety concerns, for example, rose overall, and yet Black and Hispanic students were more likely than other groups to report this.

Almost 70% of LGBTQ+ students experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, and more than 20% attempted suicide during the previous year.

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Click to view the report.