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United Kingdom: 46 percent of 14-year-old LGBTs mutilate themselves

(Blogmensgo, gay blog of September 6, 2018) According to The Children’s Society annual report published on 29 August 2018, more than 45% of British 14-year-olds who are attracted to the same or both sexes have mutilated themselves over the past year. The report entitled The Good Childhood cites homophobia, stereotypical gender thinking and a lack of inclusion in many schools as the main reasons.

Study details

The Children's Society report is based on three main sources, in particular the Millenium Cohort Study, a longitudinal study of 19,000 children born in the 2000-2001 school year and turning 14 years old in 2015. The other important statistical source is based on questionnaires distributed by the Society in May-June 2018 to youths aged 10 to 17.

Study on automutilation

Gay or bisexual 14-year-olds in the UK are at least twice as susceptible to self-mutilation as any other category of teenagers. ©childrenssociety.org.uk

The words gay, lesbian and bisexual do not appear as such in any of the questionnaires. For example, the 19,000 young people aged 14 were asked whether they felt attracted to boys, girls, both sexes or neither of those. Young people attracted by people of the same or both sexes make up 5% of the sample, compared to 12% who are not attracted by either sex.

Alarming numbers

At the age of 14, children who are attracted by the same or both sexes score significantly worse than other young people in three categories of perceived well-being. These young people feel less satisfied with their lives in general, more prone to depression and more susceptible to emotional and behavioral disorders.

As many as 45.7% of these LGBT youths have injured themselves in the last 12 months, compared to only 9.2% of the boys and 22% of the girls in total (15% of the sample of 19,000 young people surveyed). Among heterosexual adolescents, the percentage was only 14.7%.

At a total of 10 points, the perceived well-being is an average of 7.97 for boys and 7 for girls. Young people who were not attracted to boys or girls felt much more comfortable (8.21 points) than those who were interested in the opposite sex (7.53). On the other hand, the well-being of LGBT adolescents is significantly lower (5.45 in homosexual adolescents and 5.42 in bisexual adolescents).

Even more alarming are the figures when you look at the indicators of personal dissatisfaction. Up to 29.7% of LGBT teenagers say they are dissatisfied with their lives, three times as many as heterosexual teenagers (10.5%).

The difference is even more pronounced when it comes to severe depressive symptoms. Such symptoms are found in 38.2% of LGBT teenagers, but almost four times less (10%) in heterosexual teenagers.

The causes of unhappiness

What causes such self-mutilation in teenagers? In May and June 2018, The Children's Society interviewed around 2,000 young people between the ages of 10 and 17 to gain an insight into the causes of this phenomenon.

The result is that social and cultural pressure for girls is often more difficult to bear than for boys, and even more difficult for homosexual or bisexual adolescents than for heterosexuals. The social and cultural pressure comes from teachers, parents, but also – even more strongly – from fellow youths.

This pressure is particularly evident in everything that has to do with the appearance of a person, be it the school uniform, choice and quality of clothing, appearance and behavior of the student or even the observance of certain unwritten standards.

Among these standards, gender-specific standards should be mentioned above all, for example, that boys play the hard way and girls like clothes.

The age of 14 is a crucial time when young people often begin to ask themselves existential questions about their gender identity and sexual orientation (or some are already through with it). If the behavior of young people is not gender-specific enough or too strong, homophobic or misogynistic bullying may come up and become unbearable eventually.

To find a way out of this, the Children Society calls on schools and their staff to create an atmosphere in which young people can feel comfortable and do not have to remain silent or hide, even if they still have questions about their own sexuality.

Frank-S / MensGo

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