Craig Henningfield: Young girls in the Yampa Valley need our support | SteamboatToday.com

Craig Henningfield: Young girls in the Yampa Valley need our support

The Journal of the American Medical Association, as reported in their Nov. 21  issue, reviewed emergency department visit rates for youth with self-inflicted injuries. These injuries include poisonings and wounds from sharp or blunt objects. The national statistics are alarming – particularly among girls ages 10 to 14 years of age:

• Before 2008, ER visits for self-inflicted wounds in this age group were relatively stable. However, from 2009 to 2015, girls in late elementary and middle school experienced an 18.8 percent annual increase. In other words, for this age group, visits to the ER nearly tripled in seven years.

• This corresponds with the upward trend in "youth suicide rates from 1999 to 2014, in which rates increased most notably after 2006 with females aged 10 to 14 years experiencing the greatest increase," according to the report.

• Such findings overlap with an increase of depression among youth, especially young girls.

What's going on? No doubt, this involves a complex web of relationships and issues: parents, siblings, family dynamics, friends, schools, neighborhoods, cultural influences, media, etc. Media includes TV, movies, magazines and the ever-present "social media" experiences. We all might want to review some of the statistics as reported by Ambassadors 4 Kids Club.

This makes me wonder how the young girls in our valley are doing. Is this a problem here? If so, or even if not, what can we do across the Yampa Valley to avoid or respond to this issue?

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The AMA suggests the implementation of various prevention strategies; strengthening access to and delivery of care for suicidal youth; and "creating protective environments, promoting youth connectedness, teaching coping and problem-solving skills and identifying and supporting at-risk youth within communities."

That's a real mouthful. What does that mean for us?

We can applaud and support every person and every organization that is working with young girls across our valley. We can encourage and appreciate parents and step-parents, single moms and dads, teachers and youth leaders and everyone who is related to, works with and knows of a young girl, who is 10 to 14, and those younger and older. We can be advocates for regular "daddy-daughter dates" across the valley.

Men, we have a life-sharing role in the growth of our daughters. She needs to hear us. She needs to see us respecting women in every circumstance. She needs to be with us as we face life's challenges.

We need to be involved with her for the sacred purpose of encouraging her, guiding her, helping her and being there for her as she navigates the big, wide world.

It is my hope that, in the valley, no ambulance will need to be called in response to self-inflicted injuries … or worse.

Craig Henningfield

Steamboat Springs