August 29, 2013

Boys Who Need Men in their Lives - Bad News and some Really Good News

First the Bad News:

Australian Chris Lane, 22, died from gunshot wounds on Aug. 16, in Duncan, Oklahoma. Lane had moved to Oklahoma to play baseball, and was staying with the family of his girlfriend in Duncan. He would have been a senior at East Central University this fall. He was shot in a random drive-by shooting by 3 teen boys who told police they were bored and had simply decided to kill someone for the "fun of it." Now Lane is gone and the 15, 16, and 17 year-olds are charged with murder. In a press conference Duncan District Attorney, Jason Hicks, said, "This is not Duncan, Oklahoma."

After years of working with young guys, it's always a surprise to me how shocked people are when these tragedies happen. Of course it's always wrong, often horrific, wrenching, and it messes with our protective delusions that boyhood should be a great time in a teenage boy's life. It is for some. But there are so many young guys disconnected from their community, bored, lost in their lives, and they are often angry and restless. Add guns to that mix and there can only be big trouble.

James Johnson was the man who called police four hours after the boys shot Lane. He said the shooters were outside his home with guns. Minutes later the boys were arrested with a handgun and a shotgun in their car. Johnson believes they murdered Lane as part of a gang initiation and had also targeted his son. In the video below, listen to what he says about out-of-control and lost boy shooters:

If this clip doesn't show up use this link.
. . . they are all good kids, they just don't have
any male figures in their lives . . . no men.

BUT WAIT! Now for the Good News:

In the same week, I was sent some information about another, happier story concerning men and boys. A group of men from the Boys to Men Organization in San Diego, California are doing something critical for the boys in their world. It's called the School Group Mentoring Program. Every week these dedicated men are showing up at middle schools, high schools, and foster care facilities to give teenage boys a community of men who listen, encourage, and believe in them.

Here is how they describe their program on their website:

In 2009, Boys to Men began an after school group mentoring program in San Diego targeting “at-risk” middle and high school boys. . . . The group aspect of the weekly meetings gives boys access to a variety of male role models. These men show up consistently, tell the truth about their struggles as men, ask the boys what kind of man they want to be, praise them for their unique gifts, support them when they screw up, and encourage them to become that good man they all want to be. . . . When we invest in our boys, and support them at this critical time, the payback will last a lifetime!­­

Here's some interesting data on the boys who have participated in these school programs. They have:
  • Improved their GPA by an average of 57%.
  • Reduced their discipline referrals by 79%.
  • STAYED in school. (Boys to Men students had a 0% dropout rate. The school dropout rate was 35.5%.)
An interesting side note is that 75% of the boys in the program are growing up without a father in their home.

The men from Boys to Men, San Diego, raise money to fund their school programs in a uniquely California way . . . by surfing! They call it their 100 Wave Challenge. In the video from last year's event below, you can listen to what these men and young men are saying about what it's like to be in a community where the men are showing up for the boys.

If this clip doesn't show up use this link.

Their 4th Annual 100 Wave Challenge will be September 21st at Mission Beach in San Diego. Each surfer has sponsors who have pledged financial support, and the guy has 12 hours to catch 100 waves. The average time to catch and surf 100 waves is 6 hours. It's truly a heroic effort that can only be accomplished with the support of their fellow surfers, their friends and family on the beach, and knowing the funds raised will be put to such a good cause.

If you like what they are doing and can't get there with your board, consider sending them a donation. Because as they said at the end of the video, " . . . every boy deserves a good man in his life!"

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