The Challenge for Girls

“For me, Rosh Hodesh is about being with girls with the same values who I can trust and hang out with, no pressure.” — 14-year-old participant

Studies of the lives of adolescent girls give us insight into the challenges of today’s teens:

  • 50% of 9 and 10-year-old girls have negative feelings about their bodies
  • 30% of 9-year-old girls are afraid of being fat
  • almost 5% of young women have eating disorders
  • close to 20% of 9th grade girls—and 51% of 12th grade girls—are sexually active
  • 23% of 9th grade girls binge drink
  • almost 25% of sexually active 9th-grade girls used alcohol or drugs during their last sexual intercourse.

Changes in technology and the relentless marketing of sexuality and of consumer products to ever-younger girls have magnified the challenges:

  • 8-18 year-olds spend 7½ hours a day using cell phones, laptops, and TV – almost 53 hours a week.
  • When you add in the effects of multi-tasking, it’s more like 10¾ hours a day and 75 hours a week. (Picture your daughter on the couch watching TV, while she “talks to friends” on her laptop and phone.)
  • 60% of tweens (ages 10-14), and 84% of teens (ages 15-18) have cell phones.
  • There are an estimated 370 million internet porn sites – a major source of “sex education” for many kids today.
  • Over half of teenage girls use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives – and they learn these techniques on the growing number of sites like prettythin.com that pretend to be about recovery but are not.
  • Among 12-17-year-olds, girls are more likely than boys to abuse prescription drugs.

In the Jewish community, where girls are encouraged to excel academically and to be outspoken, other dynamics play into the complex questions that girls face as they become young women. Some girls thrive, but all girls have friends, classmates, or neighbors who struggle during this transition and are sorely in need of the support that only a caring community can provide.

Rosh Hodesh helps teach girls the power of community and the ability of Jewish wisdom and practice to foster personal expression and to inspire all people to work for a more just and inclusive world.

Read what girls have to say about this program.