Tuesday, October 3, 2000

It is easy enough to do; and in a study conducted by Applied Research and Consulting LLC, a collaboration with the Girls Scout Research Institute, girls said that their parents were unwilling to listen to their questions if they felt the girls were too young to be asking them.

The study, "Girls Speak Out: Teens Before Their Time," reveals that not answering questions asked by girls, ages 8-12, about sexuality, boys, and physical development, can potentially create negative outcomes for girls. Girls may look to less reliable sources and gather misinformation; they may believe that parental resistance to talk means that topics are evidence of a "wrong" the girl has committed. Or, they may believe that asking the questions will lead their parents to trust them less in the future. All misinterpretations increase an already stressful situation.

"Girls Speak Out: Teens Before Their Time" is an important reminder that girls need a place, whether it be at the family dinner table, a student/teacher conference, or a Girl Scout troop meeting, where they may speak out and feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and concerns.

Girls want and need to speak out. That is why those of us who are involved in the growth and development of girls here in northwest Iowa, including parents, teachers, leaders, and other youth-serving organizations, have an obligation to listen. Hear what your daughter is asking you, value the observation of your students, listen to the concerns of your troop members. Confidence begins when someone you admire respects you, too.

Susan Ahlers


Girls Scouts of

Lakota Council