"Status of Girls in Wisconsin" report reveals young women's struggles

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A new report by Alverno College, highlights the tough issues girls in Wisconsin face each day. The latest "Status of Girls in Wisconsin" report by the Alverno College Research Center for Women and Girls covers stress, bullying, depression and more. Researchers hope it will inspire change.

Most of us have been affected by bullying, or we know someone who has.

Rose Zimmerman, a sophomore at Alverno, knows bullying is one of the most talked about issues girls face.

"With like weight or appearance, I think that`s a big factor in our lives right now," Zimmerman said.

According to the "Status of Girls in Wisconsin" report, more than a quarter of girls say they have been a victim of bullying. Bullying is one of nearly a dozen issues covered in the report.

"We looked at demographics, education, physical health, violence and abuse -- and our girls are facing some challenges in Wisconsin," Rhonda Ware, the executive director of the Alverno College Research Center for Women and Girls said.

The report focuses on women ages 10 to 19. The goal is to give society a big picture view of what girls in Wisconsin deal with, and give community organizations, schools and parents ideas on how to improve the lives of young women.

"Are we moving the needle forward? And if we`re not, at the pace that we would like to, what can we do? " Ware said.

The good news; the number of Wisconsin high school girls having sex, and the number of teen birth rates have gone down in recent years, as well as the number of high school girls smoking cigarettes.

But overall, the report reveals some troubling patterns.

One of the findings that stood out the most to researchers is the number of girls reporting symptoms of depression: one-third of girls in Wisconsin.

"We try to hide it a lot. A lot of people don`t want to talk about depression and don`t want to admit they are depressed," Zimmerman said.

Researchers hope bringing these big issues to light will help to empower more young women.

"Everyone is perfect in their own way," Zimmerman said.

READ IT: Status of Girls in Wisconsin - COMPLETE REPORT