This week, I would like to share with you a synopsis of the recently released book Being 14 written by author, researcher and journalist, Madonna King. King shares her insight in the life of teenage girls following a series of 200 interviews conducted with 14-year-old girls across Australia. A must read for all parents today.

In Being 14, Australian teen girls tell you – their parents, grandparents, aunts and neighbours, what they want you to hear. The result of interviewing almost 200 14-year-old girls across Australia, it gives a voice to our teens, and allows them to nominate their challenges at work, and at home. Those challenges are then put to dozens of successful school principals, counsellors, teachers, police officers, parenting experts and teen psychologists in a bid to help you navigate a solution, at home and at school.

Below is just a snippet of what Madonna learnt, as a journalist and as a mother of two daughters approaching 14:

  1. Seven in every ten 14-year-old girls get insufficient sleep. Often this is because of the number of extra-curricular activities, not just social media. They need nine hours minimum each night, and 30 minutes of missed sleep records a measurable IQ difference of up to 10 points.
  2. Setting up false social media accounts, purporting to be another person, is now a common act of revenge when friends fall out. You’ll read how this is having dreadful consequences, as the victim logs on to find she has allegedly sent spiteful and abusive messages to her friends.
  3. About one-third of teen girls – according to educators and police – will send a half-naked photograph of themselves to someone else. Being 14 explores the motivation behind girls doing this, but also explains why it is often the ‘good’ student who falls foul of social media.
  4. Frenetic home lives add to the obsession with social media. A girl, who has a disagreement with her friends, now comes home, into her room, where that argument will grow and continue into the night. More connected than ever, our teen girls can feel utterly alone. Some are sending more than 100 texts each night.
  5. The ages of 12-25 are crucial in the brain’s development, with the part that provides teens with reasoning skills still developing over this period. In Being 14, science experts explain this is why your 14-year-old might appear disorganised.
  6. An anxiety epidemic exists, with school refusal and self-harm, on the rise. In some cases, girls are seeking counselling because they failed to achieve A-grade marks or get into an extension class. Is this what we want from our daughters? And why have 14-year-olds made contact with Kids Helpline 22,000 times in the past four years?
  7. We all worry about our teens having too many friends on social media, so think about this: a 14-year-old with 650 friends on one social media app could conceivably have 325,000 people able to contact her because of the number of followers each of her friends boasts. Jon Rouse who heads Taskforce Argos – the undercover police unit that tracks online sex offenders – points the finger squarely at parents.
  8. Online porn is becoming a dominant ‘sex educator’ for boys, and police and educators say this is impacting on how girls are treated, and how they see themselves. Being 14 talks to police about how they are handling this challenging new environment, and educators explain what our teen girls need to know.

Being 14 walks parents through issues as varied as pocket money and teen parties, self-image and academic pressure, the relationship between teen girls and their mothers, and provides the expert advice on keeping that relationship strong. Importantly, it is a book that gives our teen girls a voice. In it, they confide what they really want us to know. And the experts provide us with some really helpful tips to help guide our teen girls become strong, independent and happy women.

Thanks to Dr Peter Jurcevic for the recommendation – a great read!

Term 2 Art Celebrations

Term 2 provides many opportunities for our School community to come together in celebration of the Arts.

The St Catherine’s Foundation Board is also delighted to offer Foundation Members an exclusive tour of The Season exhibition by Van Gogh, presented by the National Gallery of Victoria and Arts Exhibition Australia at their annual Social Evening. The Foundation Evening will be held on Friday 12 May with bookings for the exclusive St Catherine’s Exhibition Tour limited (bookings essential).

I encourage your attendance at the Yulendj Art Exhibition, launched on Sunday 28 May 3.00pm-5.00pm in Sherren House with the exhibition closing on Thursday 1 June. The exhibition has been expertly curated by St Catherine’s parent, Mr Shaun Dennison, with over 40 artworks available for purchase across the week. This will be our second Yulendj Art Exhibition, with the first being highly effective in establishing awareness to the Indigenous Scholarship Program at St Catherine’s and successfully raising in excess of $85,000.  In partnership with Yalari, the School provides scholarships for four indigenous students from Broome, Central Australia and regional Victoria, with two students commencing this year in Year 7. The School’s long term intention is to support six Yalari students at any one time.


Mrs Michelle Carroll, Principal