Teenage tension

A number of stories last week offered an insight into life as a Swedish teenager.

Researchers at Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska Academy were surprised to discover that girls’ blood pressure was higher at school than at home, but that no such difference existed for boys.

Tuesday’s SvD reported that 80 children had been monitored by Professor Peter Friberg, who put forward a number of theories for the discrepancy, including that girls bring problems from outside into school and that they exercise less. He also pointed to other research, which showed that girls suffer more from stomach aches, headaches and anxiety.

Friberg was no doubt interested to read the results of GP’s annual youth survey, published on Sunday. 2,873 year nine students (aged 15-16) responded to roughly 100 questions about their lives, but it was the importance teenagers attach to appearance which made the news.

74% of girls thought that appearance was important, compared with 68% of boys, while the biggest difference concerned those who have tried to lose weight: 60% of girls but only 22% of boys said they’ve tried to diet.

Matilda, 16, who “often discusses looks with her friends”, told the paper: “I don’t think there’s much we can do about girls being obsessed by their weight. We’re influenced all the time by messages from the media.”

Meanwhile, Tuesday’s Aftonbladet reported that another research team were stunned to discover that more high school boys than girls have received payment for sexual favours.

Carl Göran Svedin surveyed 4,343 students attending gymnasium in cities from Malmö to Haparanda. In total, 1.5% had been paid for sexual favours – 37 boys and 27 girls.

“I’d expected completely different results,” Svedin commented.

The findings, which have been passed on to the government, showed that many of those who answered ‘yes’ were from immigrant backgrounds and that the majority had suffered sexual abuse.

Finally, much attention was paid to the government’s decision to bring in a law in the new year to make it compulsory for children under 15 to wear a helmet when cycling.

Infrastructure minister, Ulrica Messing, explained to Monday’s DN: “Adults can take responsibility for their own behaviour. There’s nothing new in having extra protection for children. We have specific legislation for young people concerning tobacco and alcohol.”

Markus Forsberg, 14, has another – perhaps more sensible – solution. He told SvD: “If more adults wore helmets, more kids would too.”