London, Jul 14 (UNI) The social pressure to grow up too quickly is taking a toll on the psychological health of young girls, driving them towards eating disorders, panic attacks and self-harming.
A study released today by Girlguiding UK and the Mental Health Foundation, has found adolescent girls feel increasing pressure from magazines and websites to live up to material and sexual ideals, leaving them vulnerable and unhappy.
The study titled 'A Generation Under Stress?' said, young girls felt worse about themselves after looking at pictures of models, pop stars and actresses in magazines. They felt under pressure from magazines and websites which tell them to be thin, take drugs and even have plastic surgery.
According to the study, compiled from an online survey, girls as young as ten said that the social pressure to grow up was among the greatest influences on their wellbeing. They felt they had to wear clothes which made them look older and had to deal with sexual advances from boys.
''Girls and young women are being forced to grow up at an unnatural pace in a society that we, as adults, have created and it's damaging their emotional well-being,'' Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation Dr Andrew McCulloch said.
The youngsters told researchers that they faced an ever-growing checklist of appearance and behaviour 'ideals' which led to stress and anxiety.
If they don't adhere to these checklist of 'ideals', they often feel singled out and vulnerable to bullying, observed Tracey Murray, trustee for Girlguiding UK.
The report of the study, published in British newspapers, warned that youngsters were under pressure from a 'new generation of potential triggers for mental health problems' as well as longstanding issues such as family breakdown and exam stress.
Newer pressures included premature sexualisation, commercialisation and alcohol misuse, it said.
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