Friday, August 20, 2010

Girls Scouting has never been more needed than today

Being a girl has been a different row to hoe for females across the years, and across cultures and continents. In many ways today girls in twenty-first century USA have reached parity with males and even moved ahead in a few areas. But the pressure to succeed, to meet the expectations set for girls by their parents, their schools, their peers and the relentless onslaught of the media to look and act and consume in certain proscribed ways has never been as rough for girls as it is today.

When girls lack confidence and courage they are more at risk for their physical, social and emotional health. The obesity crisis rises up against the pandering of the media for girls to grow up too quickly, to buy things that they do not need, to conform to images of beauty that may be totally unreal and unattainable. When girls do not feel confident and safe, they are more likely to miss school, and engage in behaviors that put themselves and their communities at risk.

Girl Scouts are addressing these issues and more, every day. We work with girls at the Troop level and individually to find a safe space where they can discover more about themselves and the world around them, connect with other people and ideas, and where they can take action to make the world a better place. Cookies, crafts and camping are all terrific ways for girls to build skills, appreciate the environment and learn to make their own way, but those activities are just a small part of the programming and values that Girl Scouts provide. Robots, science, music, travel, adventure, problem solving and tackling community problems such as land use and hunger are all in the Girl Scout’s Journey.

And Girl Scouts are taking action -- locally and across the country. Girl Scouts of Nassau County’s Critical Issues initiative has been working on the problem of relational aggression, social bullying and cyber-bullying for the past five years. This year, with the help of the New York State Girl Scout Legislative Network, the NYS Dignity for All Students Act was passed in Albany. US Representative Carolyn McCarthy is working on the issue of bullying and a Suffolk Girl Scout recently testified before Congress on how Girl Scouting had helped her to address bullying in her life. We are supporting HR 4925, the Healthy Media Images for Youth Act , so that girls see true and reasonable portrayals of healthy people in the ads that come at them each day.

Research shows that girls who maintain self-confidence, who have strong values and who have other girls and adults to whom they can turn for advice and comfort are more likely to succeed in school and in life. Girls Scouting has never been more needed than today …

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