Monday’s release of a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the increasing prevalence of teen depression is a devastating indictment of the consequences of living in a post-Christian culture.

According to the CDC data, “Nearly 3 in 5 (57%) U.S. teen girls felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021—double that of boys, representing a nearly 60% increase and the highest level reported over the past decade.”

Other findings include:

Almost 1 in 5 teen girls experienced sexual violence in the past year—a 20% increase since 2017. 

More than 1 in 10 teen girls reported they had ever been forced to have sex—up 27% since 2019 and the first increase since CDC began monitoring this measure.  

More than 1 in 4 girls reported they seriously considered attempting suicide in 2021, up nearly 60% from 2011. More than 1 in 10 girls reported they attempted suicide in 2021, up 30% from a decade ago. Alcohol use is also higher among girls than boys. 

The report quickly and assuredly reveals its liberal bias by suggesting gender-confused students have likewise seen a significant uptick in depression, violence and suicidal ideation. The implication is that ongoing bias or prejudice directed towards these individuals is a significant burden leading to poor mental health.

So, what’s really behind these troubling trends?

Since time immemorial, growing up is hard to do. But we know growing up is exponentially harder without the benefit of a married mother and father. Absent this steady and loving counsel in the home, kids are more likely to rebel and jump the tracks. Yet, liberal politicians have literally characterized the advocacy of a married two-parent home as a “dangerous and un-American belief.”

So many of the policies that the progressive left has advocated for to supposedly liberate and improve the family have had the precise opposite effect. From no-fault divorce to abortion to erasing incentives to marry at all, the net effect has been disastrous.

Children need mothers and fathers who model how to navigate life’s challenges. They need parents to chasten and chide when they’re off course – and cheer them on when they’re running in the right direction.

The dramatic increase in teenage mental health struggles has also been attributable to the dysfunction being something of a social contagion. Clusters of kids have been known to attempt suicide. Basically, one person does it and it then somehow it seems like a good idea to others in the peer group.

As for the suggestion that gender confused teens are struggling because society isn’t accepting them – we know that sexual confusion and sin are inherently problematic and unsettling and are usually accompanied by a host of other mental and emotional struggles.

It also can’t be coincidental that the rise in teen depression, especially among girls, also coincides with the explosion of smart phones and social media. This technology can be toxic for everyone, but especially impressionable, fragile and emotionally developing youngsters.

Parents would be wise to consider limiting use of both. Giving a smart phone with access to the internet with no limits to a teen is the equivalent of giving car keys to an alcoholic in a bar. It almost never ends well.

In recent years, there seems to be a near manic obsession and concern regarding the climate. Mainstream press is filled with reports of so-called “settled science” indicating warmer temperatures will flood cities, starve whole populations and erase humanity. These gloomy and cataclysmic predictions have all been wrong, and dramatically so.

Instead of warning about the perils and threats of the physical climate, this CDC report makes clear we should be concentrating on the climate of our children’s minds. That’s because as the late Dr. Adrian Rogers liked to say, “What goes down in the well comes up in the bucket.” Garbage in and garbage out.

The apostle Paul was rightly concerned about our thought life. That’s because he knew our minds apart from God are wicked (Col. 1:21). He recognized our tendency toward “deceitful desires” and the need to be “renewed in the spirit of [our] minds” (Eph. 4:23).

As Christian believers, our hearts break for the many confused and broken-hearted youth who seem to be aimless and hopeless. There is a great mission field in the junior high and high schools of America, as well as the youth groups in churches all across the country. Prayerfully consider leaning in and helping out. Step in and step up. There is a tragedy of major proportions before us and problems on a scale unlike we’ve ever seen. Thankfully, Jesus Christ and His people are the answer.