Sunday, July 23, 2006


Judd: The New York Spanish language newspaper El Diario/La Prensa has just completed a remarkable series on the staggering attempted suicide rates among Latina teenagers. The series, written by Elaine Rivera, focuses on the often suffocating conditions facing Latina girls today and the findings of Dr. Luis Zayas from the Washington University of St. Louis who is in the midst of a five year study on the subject.

Jason: The Center For Disease Control has stated that one in six Latina teens have attempted suicide - a shocking number that is the highest amongst all teen groups. The stats span all Hispanics - from Mexican to Dominican. Certainly, all teens struggle with issues of identity and self-doubt. First and second generation teens have an even greater burden to fit in. Layer onto this the cultural pressures facing Latinas and you have a formula that can easily lead to despair. I've seen it. I've known it.

Judd: Consider this: Living in an American society that does not reflect her own values, experiences and language, the Latina teen is burdened with a set of cultural beliefs and mores that further isolate her. Many are also dealing with issues of poverty. Her culture imposes strict gender roles and religious taboos. She must help out with the younger children and the household chores. Her freedom in an open American world is limited; she is often restricted from the extracurricular activities that she sees her non-Hispanic friends enjoy. Strict religious beliefs reject sex education, open discussion on contraception and sex and the option of choosing abortion if she does get pregnant. This, in turn, results in her being at greater risk of not only getting pregnant but also infected with AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. All the while, she is bombarded with media images of people and lifestyles that do not reflect who she is or what she is experiencing.

Jason: It is not surprising that one in six feels there's no way out. While overall teenage pregnancy rates are down, Latina teens continue to have a much higher birth rate than either their white and black sisters. It is no wonder that their high school drop-out rates are mounting as well.

Judd: The suicide attempts are clearly a cry for help. We all need to listen. By 2050, one in four women in America will be Latina. Dr. Zayas has called it a public health issue. He is right. With statistics like these we will all be touched by this crisis. These teens are our future. They must have access to free clinics and counseling where they can feel safe to discuss sexuality, identity and their feelings of isolation. We cannot stand by and let these teens feel so trapped by their situation that they feel no recourse but to take their own lives.


At 6:38 AM, Blogger changeseeker said...

What a bleak picture. I had no idea. Thank you for putting this out there.

At 10:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peace and Blessings to All.
Even though this is a situation that crosses the "different races", I as a latin-amerikan man have witnessed the thing that enable this situation for Our young latinas. To give a very personal account I have male cousin (of dominican and puerto rican heritage) who at the age of 12 could basically do as he pleased. Go out, host parties in the house, drink alchol, have girlfriends sleep over, etc. His sister living in the same household can't do any of the mentioned. To add to that he never did well in school and didn't do much around the house. My female cousin on the other hand always did really well in school, a constant help around the house and is now preping to start college. He never went. I have many other females in my family who have to endure the same treatment, and its not like its just the fathers or the older brothers oppressing the females, but its the mothers as well. The latin culture will do that! Just put on any of the latin tv networks to get a glimpse of what us latinos and latinas do to each other. All the women want to be sex figures with white skin, blonde hair and big boobs. All the men want to be scarface. I cannot go any further because I will write for days, but this is a real issue, and it doesnt just affect latinos.

One Love

At 10:21 PM, Blogger judd grill & jason ortiz said...

Truth, you have a keen awareness and understanding concerning this issue. thank you for sharing. we look foward to reading your future comments.


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