July 31, 2006

"boy school shooter " Google

Just out of pure curiosity, I Googled the words "boy, school, shooter." Somehow twenty-seven million hits are just too many. I know that doesn't equate with the number of actual boy shooters. However, it really is a very big number.

To me it says that too many boys need men's help.

What does it say to you?

"Our doubts are traitors, and makes us lose the good

we oft might win, by fearing to attempt."

—William Shakespeare

July 23, 2006

Men - Cities - Juvenile Crime - Success

I know the Mayor of Minneapolis gets it when he says, "We can’t arrest the problem of crime away... we need to also get at the root causes of crime to win back our kids."

In a recent press release, Mayor R. T. Rybak speaks to the success of the City’s Juvenile Crime Unit saying, "arrests of juvenile offenders have increased 115% and charges of juvenile offenders have increased 50% when compared to last year." That's the tragic but necessary part, and the answer to the immediate problem of juvenile crime.

How I know he gets the message at the heart of my soon to be out Man-Making book (subscribers will be notified), is described in what else the city is doing for kids. Read this taken from the article:

In addition to tough enforcement, Mayor Rybak insisted that the long-term solution to youth crime is to attack the core issues that put kids at risk. Towards that end, the City has increased the number of youth summer jobs, expanded youth recreation, and increased funding for aggressive outreach to the most disconnected, at-risk youth to out-recruit the gangs.

“We can’t arrest the problem of crime away,” Rybak said. “There’s a time for tough enforcement – and we’re doing that – but we need to also get at the root causes of crime to win back our kids. We must prevent crime by creating an environment of hope for our youth. This takes all of us stepping forward to connect youth with trusted adults and give them a sense that they belong.”

The Mayor's call to the citizens is very much the same as my call to men. We don't have to live in denial, fear, and hopelessness about this problem. People, but especially men, if they hear this call, can do something to make a difference in young male lives.

Click here to read the complete article... and then go do something!

July 10, 2006

New York Times - Piles On

The New York Times, starting today, will be running a series titled THE NEW GENDER DIVIDE, which, "...will examine what has happened to men and women several decades after the women's movement began." It's a huge topic, but today's issue is yet another media outlet talking about what's going on, or not going on for boys.

Looking at college registration and graduation data, the author of this article feels it's clear that it's not so much that men are "... in a downward spiral," but that women are doing better. "Still, men now make up only 42 percent of the nation's college students. And with sex discrimination fading and their job opportunities widening, women are coming on much stronger, often leapfrogging the men to the academic finish."

As I've said before, stand by for a flood of research that's sure to follow, as the issues behind these statistics are mined. Jacqueline King, a researcher for the American Council on Education's Center for Policy Analysis, is quoted in the article as saying, "Over all, the differences between blacks and whites, rich and poor, dwarf the differences between men and women within any particular group." That may be so, but the differences are still troubling.

Personally, I love that the discussion is taking place at all. Whatever direction this particular issue takes, it's just one more symptom of what is not working in boy's lives. As I suspect we'll soon be hearing, there lots of other reasons for adult men to show up more consistently in the lives of the boys around them.

July 2, 2006

Progress & hot boy articles

Thanks for your patience as I work on the Man-Making manuscript. I am two-thirds through the first professional edit, have some exciting drafts of the cover, and still think a book will be out by the end of summer. In the mean time, I couldn't ignore a couple of articles in the recent media about this topic.

Esquire Magazine, in it's July issue, has a good article by Tom Chiarella titled, The Problem with Boys. It is another chance to visit the sobering statistics pointing to the need to do something for boys. The author suggests we use the women and girls movement as a model, and clearly calls men to action. He says, "Women forced the issue with girls. Men have to do the same with boys", and, "Men have to be willing to care about the way boys are being treated, taught, and cared for in this country and advocate for them."

He clearly lays the problem at men's feet when he says, "
Go talk to boys. You don't have to use baby talk with them or buy them things. You just have to listen to them. Ask them who they are. The answers they give may not always make sense, but talk to enough of them and you will surely realize that boys themselves are not the problem. And it sure as hell isn't women or girls. The problem is men."

In another article in the Washington Post newspaper, the writer actually wonders if boys are in trouble at all. The article titled,
Study Casts Doubt On the 'Boy Crisis by Jay Mathews, points to the improvements (mostly white) boys are having in subjects like reading and math in recent years. He claims that, "The real story is not bad news about boys doing worse," the report says, "…it’s good news about girls doing better." He does go on to say Black and Hispanic boys are having serious academic problems, and he does allow that it could get better for all boys.

What he is describing is some of the early theories and early research that mark the beginning of our cultural wake up call about how much boys need help and how we might help them. Doing so will lift boys out of invisibility, and help them achieve their full human potential. Doing that, will help boys, men, girls, women and our communities.