Study Highlights Disparities in Well-Being for Girls in Southern States

A recent report by the Girl Scouts Research Institute shows that the Midwest, Northeast, and Mid-Atlantic are the best regions of the United States to raise girls, while the South – specifically Mississippi, Arkansas, and Georgia – is the worst.

via Shutterstock
via Shutterstock

The findings were based on 23 indicators of education, extracurricular activities, emotional health, physical health, safety and economic well-being. States that offer preschool education and have low high school dropout rates are consistently ranked higher in terms of best places to raise young girls, with New Hampshire at the top. The Girl Scout Research Institute conducted the survey in response to changing demographics within the Girl Scouts of the USA.

“Our aim is to inspire a national dialogue about the challenges girls are facing in communities throughout America,” said Anna Maria Chavez, the CEO of the Girl Scouts. “Only once we know where girls are succeeding and where our society needs to do more to support them can we help girls reach their maximum potential.”

The higher rate of low-income children in the southern and western US play a large part in their lower ratings. A 2013 report by the Southern Education Foundation found that a majority of public school students throughout the Southern and Western United States are low-income. Mark Mather, lead researcher of the report and a demographer at the Population Reference Bureau, told Al Jazeera America that the difference between region rankings can also largely be attributed to the intersections between poverty and education. “[The report] tells the story of the importance of education for girls,” Maher said.

“Girls are thriving in some areas, but there are portions of our population really left behind,” Kamla Modi, senior researcher with the Girl Scout Research Institute and a co-author of the report, told AlJazeera. “It’s the first we’ve really seen how different the data is geographically. There are real issues girls are facing in the South.”

Media Resources: Al Jazeera America, 8/26/14; Population Reference Bureau; Girl Scouts of the United States of America; Feminist Newswire 10/17/13

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