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the adjustment difficulties of boys and girls in the united states... Mark S. Kiselica, Ph.D., HSPP, NCC, LPC - The College of New Jersey

These health, educational and social statistics illustrate some of the major problems experienced by boys and girls in the United States:

Statistics Regarding the Adjustment Difficulties of Boys:

In 2001, 272 boys between the ages of 5 and 14 years and 3,854 boys between the ages of 15 - 24 years committed suicide (U. S. Census Bureau, 2003)

8 percent of all boys are the victims of some type of nonfatal crime at school or while going to or from school (U. S. Census Bureau, 2003)

433,108 boys were the victim of child abuse or neglect in 2001 (U. S. Census Bureau, 2003)

16 percent of men report that they were the victims of child sexual abuse (Baker & King, 2004)

14 percent of males age 15 - 19 are involved in a pregnancy and 6 percent are fathers ("Roughly Half," 1998)

Brain development in boys lags behind that of girls;

16.2 percent of boys fail to complete high school (U. S. Census Bureau, 2003)

The brain development and verbal abilities of six-year-old boys is, on average, on par with a five-year-old girl (Sax, 2001)

Boys repeat grades and drop out of school at a higher rate than do girls (American Association of University Women Educational Foundation, 1998)

Of all boys between the ages of 3 and 17 years, 22.9 percent experience either a delay in growth or development, a learning disability, or an emotional problem that lasts 3 months or more or requires psychological help (Schmittroth, 1994)

The male-to-female ratio among children classified as learning disabled ranges from 3:1 to 15:1 (Sax, 2001).

77.2 percent of all delinquency offenses are committed by boys (U. S. Census Bureau, 2003)

Every year, tens of thousands of boys are arrested for running away from home (Darnay at al., 2003)


Statistics Regarding the Adjustment Difficulties of Girls:

Compared to boys, girls are much more likely to struggle with the following difficulties:

Eating disorders: Approximately 90 percent of people with anorexia or bulimia are female. One percent of female adolescents have anorexia, and four percent of college-age women have bulimia (Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders, Inc., 2006)

Self-mutilation: Although precise statistics regarding the frequency of self-mutilation are not available, authorities on the subject agree that the problem is much more widespread in girls than in boys. "Many authors describe the typical self-mutilator as female, adolescent, or young adult, single, usually from a middle- to upper-middle-class family and intelligent" (Zila & Kiselica, 2001, p. 46).

Teen pregnancy: About 10 percent of all females aged 15 to 19 years, 15 percent of all females aged 18 to 19 years and 21 percent of sexually active females aged 18 to 19 years get pregnant (Ventura et al. 2000). Thirty-four percent of girls in this country get pregnant at least once before age 20. There are 820,000 teen pregnancies each year and about half as many teen births (National Campaign To Present Teen Pregnancy, 2004).

Dating and Domestic Violence: While women are less likely than men to be victims of violent crimes overall, women are 5 to 8 times more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate partner (U.S. Department of Justice, 1998). Forty percent of teenage girls ages 14 to 17 say they know someone their age who has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend. In one study, from 30 to 50 percent of female high school students reported having already experienced teen dating violence (Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 2005). Women ages 16 to 24 experience the highest per capita rates of intimate violence -- nearly 20 per 1000 women. In 92% of all domestic violence incidents, crimes are committed by men against women (U. S. Bureau of Justice, 2001).

Sexual Abuse and Assaults: Teenage girls in heterosexual relationships are much more likely than teenage boys to suffer from sexual abuse (National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center, 2005). Female students are more likely than male students to report sexual assault (11.9% vs. 6.1%; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2004).

Gender Learning Gaps: Girls continue to trail boys in terms of: (a) the number of computer science, computer design, and science courses taken; (b) scores on standardized tests of math and science; and (c) the amount of time and confidence using computers (American Association of University Women Educational Foundation, 1998).



Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence (2005). Teen dating statistics. Retrieved on December 14, 2005 at

American Association of University Women Educational Foundation (1998). Gender gaps: Where schools still fail our children: Executive summary. Washington, DC: Author.

Anderson, L. P., Eaddy, C. L., & Williams, E. A. (1990). Psychosocial competence: Toward a theory of understanding positive mental health among Black Americans. In D. S. Ruiz & J. P. Comer (Eds.), Handbook of mental health and mental disorder among Black Americans (pp. 255 - 271). Westport, CT: Greenwood.

Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders, Inc. (2006). Statistics: how many people have eating disorders? Retrieved online on December 15, 2006 at

Barth, R.P., Claycomb, M., & Loomis, A. (1988). Services to adolescent fathers. Health and Social Work, 13, 277-287.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2004). Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2003. MMWR, 53(SS-02):1-96. Retrieved on December 14, 2004 at

Chadwick, B. A., & Heaton, T. B. (Eds.). (1996). Statistical handbook on adolescents in America. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press.

Darnay, A. J., Lazich, R., Fisher, H. S., Magee, M. D., Piwowarski, J., & Schmittroth, L. (2003). Social trends and indicators: USA (Volume 4: Crime & Justice). Detroit: Gale Research.

Davies, S. L., Dix, E. S., Rhodes, S. D., Harrington, K. F., Frison, S., & Willis, L. (2004). Attitudes of young African fathers toward early childbearing. American Journal of Health Behavior, 28 (5), 418-425.

District of Columbia Coalition Against Domestic Violence (2005). Domestic violence statistics. Retrieved on December 14, 2005 at

Kiselica, M. S. (1995). Multicultural counseling with teenage fathers: A practical guide. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Kiselica, M. S. (1999). Counseling teen fathers. In A. M. Horne & M. S. Kiselica (Eds.), Handbook of counseling boys and adolescent males: A practitioner's guide (pp. 179 - 198). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Kiselica, M. S. (2003). Transforming psychotherapy in order to succeed with boys: Male-friendly practices. Journal of Clinical Psychology: In Session, 59, 1225 - 1236.

Marcell, A. V., Raine, T., & Eyre, S. L. (2003). Where does reproductive health fit into the lives of adolescent males? Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 35 (4), 180-186.

National Campaign To Prevent Teen Pregnancy (2004, February). Fact sheet: Recent trends in teen pregnancy, sexual activity and contraception use. Retrived online on September 26, 2005 at

National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center (2005). Teen dating violence. Retrieved on December 14, 2005 at

Parker, W. M., & Lord, S. L. (1993). Characteristics of role models for young African-American men: An exploratory survey. Journal of Multicultural Counseling & Development, 21, 97-105.

Roughly Half of Teenagers Are Sexually Active; Few Have Multiple Partners. (1998). Family Planning Perspectives, 30, 251.

Sax, L. (2001). Reclaiming kindergarten: Making kindergarten less harmful to boys. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 2, 3 - 12.

Schmittroth, L. (Ed.). (1994). Statistical record of children. Detroit: Gale Research.

U. S. Census Bureau. (2003). Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2003. Washington, DC: Author.

U. S. Department of Justice (2001, May). Special Report: Intimate partner violence. Retrieved on December 14, 2005 at

Varenhorst, B. B. (1991). Why peer helping? The Peer Facilitator Quarterly, 10, 13 - 17.

Ventura, S., Mosher, W., Curtin, S., Abna, J., & Henshaw, S. K. (2000). Trends in pregnancies and pregnancy rates by outcome: Estimates for the United Sates, 1976 - 96. National Center for Health Statistics: Vital Health Statistics, 21 (56), 1 - 45.

Zila, L. M., & Kiselica, M. S. (2001). Understanding and counseling self-mutilation in adolescent and young adult females. Journal of Counseling & Development, 79, 46 - 52.

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posted jan. 9, 2006

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