Girls Experiencing Multiple Challenges

Funding body 

British Columbia Representative for Children and Youth (RCY)



In 2021, Dr. Benoit was approached by BC’s Representative for Children and Youth (RCY) to prepare a report outlining structural and systemic dynamics leading to girls/young women experiencing complex challenges in BC. The RCY shared that girls experiencing complexity in their lives are increasingly facing negative health outcomes on multiple fronts. The resulting ‘critical injuries’ include sexualized violence, suicide attempts and/or ideation, substance use related harms, and physical assault linked to long-term impairment or even premature death.

Progress to date

The team conducted a formal scoping review of the literature to identify structural interventions that address complexity in the lives of young people. Our findings revealed that early interventions, particularly in the lives of disadvantaged mothers that support their parenting capabilities and empower them through equalizing material supports (e.g., housing, food, clothing, etc.) have positive outcomes for children’s health into the teen years and early adulthood and across their life course. Interventions that keep families together also have positive implications for health care systems (e.g., fewer emergency visits), the economy, and improve relational engagement by drawing on community networks (e.g., schools, churches, community centers, etc.). Overall, interventions that support young people in this life, help to heal harms connected to intergenerational inequities, ultimately passing positive outcomes to future generations.

The final version of the report brief, Structural interventions to reduce harms & promote the capabilities of girls experiencing multiple complexities, was submitted to the RCY in March 2022 (Benoit, C., Mellor, A., & Premji, Z. 2022) and a companion publication is in review with Child and Youth Services Review. We presented our findings at the Canadian Association for Health Services and Policy Research (CAHSPR) conference in May 2022.