Powerful Girls

Sep 21, 2014

girl sitting on walk w400 h262.jpgThese are challenging times to be raising a teenage girl.  No doubt about it.  Parents work hard to provide supervision and emotional support for their girls while instilling healthy values. But, sadly, a number of societal trends pull their precious children in unhealthy directions. The focus on celebrity and material gain can disempower girls and render them vulnerable to abuse and being taken advantage of by those who would exploit them.

Parents may find that some of their teens’ relationships give them that gut feeling that something isn’t right.  Their daughters are vague about where they spend their time and who they are spending it with.   These girls seem willing to do things they wouldn’t have done in the past, maybe for a certain person they are interested in.  Maybe their daughters have lost interest in the girlfriends they used to hang out with. In more extreme cases, more concrete signs of abuse or harm may have come to light. Perhaps that long sleeved shirt she has worn on hot summer days is hiding scars or burns or cuts or other signs of physical abuse.                        

Every day we hear stories in the media of teenage girls connecting with someone online who tells them they are interesting and beautiful and could be making a lot of money if only they would meet that person somewhere alone or runaway with them. The young girl may be convinced by the online predator that her parents don’t really understand her anyway.  It is chilling stuff for any parent to hear. 

According to organizations such as the Polaris Project, teenage girls face a 1 in 4 risk of sexual assault.  There are 114,000 attempted abductions a year in the U.S.  How can keep our girls safe? Is there anything parents can do when they suspect their daughter is at risk? How can we empower girls so they are prepared to say no to abuse? 

Start with the basics.

  • Talk to your daughter – tell her how much you love her and how proud you are of her

  • Supervise her activities – insist she calls when she gets to her destinations

  • Know her friends, know their parents, have their phone numbers

Next steps:

  • Monitor screen time – use parental controls, review website and contact histories

  • Be curious – ask for information about contacts and use of time

And finally

  • Remind your daughter she has the right and power to say no to situations that make her uncomfortable or seem dangerous

  • Help your daughter find her passion – whether it is self-expression through the arts or athletic accomplishments or taking up causes that she cares about

On that note, it is amazing and heartening to know that teens themselves have taken up the call to empower and equip teenage girls with the resources they need to protect themselves.

One teen-created organization is Just Yell Fire. Their message is that girls and young women have the right to live their lives without fear of assault or abduction. The Just Yell Fire mission is to put predators out of business. On this site, www.justyellfire.com there is a very cool instructional video on self-defense that is absolutely FREE!

Girl Scouts of America has joined the fight with their GEMS: Girl Scout Girls Empowering and Mentoring with SupportTheir mission statement: Girl Scouts passionately involved in breaking the silence and increasing awareness to help prevent human trafficking in the lives we touch. How empowering for a young woman to participate in a project that prevents the abuse of other young women. 

And there are many others.  Together teens and parents can stand up to abuse and empower young women to find their passions and achieve their dreams.

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre


If you or someone you know is seeking help because you or they have been victim of human trafficking,  contact us at Embark Counseling.


Diane Melancon

Diane is a Partner with Embark Counseling get in touch with her at diane@embarkcounseling.net

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