The Report on the Status of Girls in Indiana

Today, as the President of Saint Mary’s College, I am very proud to unveil The Status of Girls in Indiana 2013 in our state capital (Indianapolis). My hope is that policy and decision makers will see it as an additional tool to make informed decisions regarding girls in the Hoosier state. As a women’s college, we have been educating women since 1844. Because of this mission, we are also deeply concerned about the status of girls. The data contained in this report can and should impact decisions made at both the state and local levels about this vital constituency in Indiana.

What better place than a women’s college to consider the status of girls here? A team of six Saint Mary’s faculty and 60 students spent well over a year compiling The Status of Girls in Indiana report. They gathered and interpreted publicly available statistics on Hoosier girls ages 10 to 19. We believe that it is the first comprehensive study of the health and well-being of Indiana girls. The report highlights various aspects of a young woman’s life, including income, race, standardized test scores, graduation rates, obesity, depression, abuse, substance use, and physical activity.

The 64-page report leaves the reader with much to contemplate. It confirms much that we know about girls; that many are receiving good educations and moving toward productive lives that include higher education and work. Yet I’m personally shocked by the serious mental health issues that Indiana girls face. Suicide rates and depression are statistically higher compared to at least 35 other states. Inactivity and obesity are significantly higher in Indiana than the national average.

This report shows that gathering information into one usable document can have a strong impact when presented in a clear and understandable format. It is my hope that our faculty and students may have sown the seeds for improvement in the lives of girls in Indiana. In addition, this information will help Saint Mary’s, and other Indiana colleges and universities, to be better prepared to serve the young women who come to us in the future.

The information contained herein will also inform educators, policy makers, legislators, health professionals, and many others as they look for ways to promote the health and well-being of Indiana girls. We know that early intervention is the key to successfully changing behaviors and attitudes. Awareness of both the achievements made in Indiana, and the opportunities that still exist to create a better environment for girls, will help us move forward in an informed way. Our girls deserve every chance to improve their lives and achieve their dreams. We will all benefit from their success.

President Mooney’s comments at a press conference in Indianapolis on September 19, 2013 officially releasing the Report on the Status of Girls in Indiana. The report draws together publicly available statistics on Hoosier girls ages 10 to 19. From all indications, it’s the first comprehensive study on the health and well-being of Indiana girls.