Some of the reasons why parents/guardians have joined, and are joining the Butterflies community:
- Some parents had a generational stigma attached to puberty from their own negative experiences where details and support was not available.
- Some parents were concerned about the alarming statistics for girls in this age group and wanted a space that informed and empowered their daughter with the fortitude to successfully traverse these years. [Please see statistics below]
- Some parents struggled with the emotional rollercoaster that can be experienced during their daughter’s prepubescent and puberty years and wanted support for themselves and their daughters from a safe, non-judgmental place. It was suggested that wider family members may offer support but it often came with judgment.
- Some parents shied away from discussing the details of menstruation, sex, and the reasons for the physical and emotional changes during puberty. There were many reasons for this:
- Lack of their own education on the subject
- Lack of confidence
- Feelings of embarrassment
- Feeling the time was right but sensing resistance from their daughter whenever the subject was raised
- Some parents wanted additional help to reinforce their own approach to educating/supporting their daughter.
- Some parents wanted their daughter to experience being a part of a wider community, make new friends and grow through the various opportunities presented by the Butterflies programme.
- Some parents were excited about the curriculum and want to learn alongside their daughter.
NOW FOR SOME CONCERNING STATISTICS:
There are numerous studies that have taken place revealing the growing UK national statistics for girls suffering from:
“In 2017, about one in twelve (8.1%) children and young people had an emotional disorder such as anxiety or depression. Rates of emotional disorders increased with age and were more common in girls than boys. One in four (22.4%) girls aged 17 to 19 years old had an emotional disorder such as depression”. digital.nhs.uk
“Over half of all mental ill health starts by age 14 and 75% develops by age 18” (Murphy and Fonagy 2012). “Anxiety and depression are most common mental health difficulties and these have high co-morbidity” (Green et al 2005). “School learning, stress tolerance, confidence, motivation, personal relationships will be adversely affected [by metal health]” (Layard 2008)
“22% of 14-year-old-girls have self-harmed, compared to 9% of boys. While there isn’t direct research on the causes of this, there has been a growing trend of girls becoming unhappier with their lives since 2010”. The Children’s Society 2018
Attitudes towards puberty
In July 2017, Plan International UK, conducted an opinion survey amoungst UK girls and young women aged 14-21 to understand their views on menstruation. ‘25% didn’t know what was happening to them, 20% felt uncomfortable discussing their period with their school teacher or staff. More than a quarter of girls in the UK (26%) didn’t know what to do when their period started, while 48% say they feel embarrassed by their period. 25% had received comments about their cleanliness or hygiene.’ ‘Better education about the social, emotional and physical aspects of menstruation, … can help end the stigma. Plan International UK
Premature Sexualisation, Body Image, and Unhealthy Notions about Relationships
- ‘The single largest group of internet porn consumers is children aged 12-17 years old’. Quite often these sites a stumbled upon after carrying out innocent searches for homework.
- ‘1 in 3 10 year olds have seen pornography online’
- ‘81% aged 14-16 regularly access explicit photographs and footage on their home computers.’ (Psychologies Magazine 2010)
- “Internet controls or filtering software is in place in only 39% of [UK] households where a child aged 5-15 uses the internet at home – Ofcom ‘Children and parents: media use and attitudes report’ – October 2011.’
- ‘Evidence clearly shows pornography has a detrimental impact on children and young people including premature sexualisation, negative body image and unhealthy notions about relationships.’ safenet.org.uk
- The problem with mobile phones
- 61% of children aged 7 -16 have a mobile phone that can access the internet, rising to 77% among 11-16s (ChildWise Monitor 2012).
- Nearly 9 out of 10 children had no security settings on their phones and only 46% of parents were aware that they were even necessary (YouGov Carphone Warehouse Jan 12 ).
- Sexting – 40% of 11 – 14 yr olds have used their mobile phones or computer to send pictures of themselves or receive naked or topless images of friends (SW Grid for Learning Mar 11)
Exploitation and Grooming
‘Child criminal exploitation takes a variety of different forms. It can include children being forced to work in [drug producing] factories, being coerced into moving drugs or money across the country, made to shoplift or pickpocket, or to threaten other young people. Recently child criminal exploitation has become strongly associated with one specific model known as ‘county lines’. In this model, organised criminal networks typically exploit young people and vulnerable groups to distribute drugs and money across the country through dedicated mobile phone lines (often from cities to counties – hence the term county lines). This report suggests that ‘county lines’ is no longer a fringe issue, but a systemic problem reported in almost every police force in the country.’ Children’s Society – Counting Lives Report 2019.
In 2019, figures obtained by the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) from Freedom of Information requests to every police force in England and Wales revealed:
- There were a total of 5,161 crimes of sexual communication with a child recorded within a 18 months period
- There was a 200% rise in recorded instances in the use of Instagram to target and abuse children over the same time period.
‘Emily [name changed] was 13 when she was groomed online by a 24-year-old man. He had introduced himself and initially said he was 16, which quickly changed to 18. She told him she was 13. Later that evening he added her on Facebook and Snapchat.’ NSPCC 2019
Butterflies have found that greater social awareness has caused more parents/guardians to look to groups like Butterflies for support.