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Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Boys behaving badly ....

A conversation a few days ago set me thinking and doing a little digging into the reason that so many young men and teenage boys seem to have social problems today. Several reasons suggest themselves as pieces of what does seem to be a very complex puzzle, and some of them certainly aren't rocket science.

Where women were at a disadvantage fifty years ago, young men are increasingly disadvantaged today, particularly, it seems, if they are white and lower middle or working class. Young men and boys are now routinely portrayed on TV as stupid, inept and generally incapable of getting anything right. Girls on the other hand are portrayed as bright, adept and always in control and this theme carries through a range of media. Look at the Harry Potter series, Harry and Ron are always clumsy and obsessed with sport or dodging study while Hermione is always on top of the game, way ahead of Harry or Ron and certainly the brains of the outfit. Yes, Harry or Ron sometimes behave heroically, but generally they are shown in a rather negative light against the brilliance of Hermione.

Studies recently have shown that boys and girls have different learning processes, yet our education system is now geared only toward the system by which girls learn best and placing the boys at an immediate disadvantage. There is a reason truancy is higher among boys than girls and it is, quite frankly, that the education system is designed to demotivate the boys. It is no accident that boys do well in "Boys only" schools, and girls do even better in "Girls only" environs, but this does not fit the current trend to socially engineer a society in which white men are relegated to second class citizens. All too often at present one hears politicians calling for quota systems to be introduced to "redress the balance" and "raise the profile of the under represented", all of which directly impact on young white males. What does this tell the teenager struggling through the feminised Comprehensive (Failure) School where he is unlikely to get the sort of education he needs to rise above the herd and get that boost into university (Assuming if he is in England, that he can afford the fees or find the means to pay back the loan which pays for them.) which may eventually enable him to get a well paid position in a career of his choice.

I recently asked a young man what he intended to take as his A-Levels once he has his GCSE's (He's bright and predicted to get A's and B's for the GCSE's he's taking.) and his response was disturbing. It was simply, "I'm not taking any. What's the point, I won't get a better job with them, all the good jobs go to girls now." How do I persuade him otherwise? On the same day the Chairman of the Local Government Association was demanding that my former profession must be forced to recruit women only until the service reflects 40% women and 5% ethnic minorities. I have nothing against women or any other section of society, but I do have a very strong view of anything that smacks of discrimination, whether dressed up as "positive" or otherwise. The line between "positive" discrimination and "negative" is extremely thin and our present lords and masters are walking a very dangerous line in promoting a policy that our youth see as biased and unfair to anyone white and male.

Then there is a apparent increase in violence practiced by our teenagers. Again our government has disarmed the populace, removed the right of self-defence (It's so tied up in legal niceties its almost impossible to prove that you were defending yourself, a situation not helped by every criminal charged with violent and deadly assault trying to argue that he was "in fear of his life".) that the only people who now routinely carry weapons are the criminals - and the youngsters who have no role models worthy of the name to emulate. Take a look at the most popular video games, almost exclusively gory and violent and then tell me yet again that these have no influence on the mind of the player. In my own youth we played with toy guns, and we knew it was all make believe. None of us would have dreamed of taking out our father's service pistol or rifle and playing with that, we knew what the consequences were likely to be. Now we here of "anger management" counselling for the violent, but this seems to include encouraging the afflicted to play his favourite and frequently truly violent game!

I will say that I am no prude, yet I am now probably going to prove that I am by saying that I find the dress (or lack of it) of many young girls (and I do mean young!) disturbing. Then these same girls complain that the boys are only interested in sex. And the boys find themselves accused of harassing the girls or, worse, of molesting them or even in extreme cases of rape. Yes, I'm getting older, but no self respecting girl would have dreamed of dressing the way so many now do when I was a teenager, for one thing their parents would have banned them from setting foot outside, let alone run off to see the boys like that. So what do we expect our boys to do or think when an attractive girl wears a provocative outfit and then sends such mixed signals? Why are we, and they, surprised when the boys respond inappropriately?

Our boys today frequently have no real role model, no one who sets an exemplar pattern that inspires any boy to follow in that lead. Who are these kids "heroes"? pop stars, most of them drug takers and most of them really socially repugnant. Football stars, many of them with "anger management" problems and some really anti-social attributes. Where do we think the boys get this habit of spitting everywhere and all the time from? On the one hand they are constantly told that discipline at home infringes their "rights" yet we expect them to impose their own "self discipline" without ever having any guidance on what is, and is not, socially acceptable behaviour until they get hauled before a magistrate for the routine slap on the wrist in a family court.

This flows over into the perceived state that a "single parent" home is better than a home with a father in it. Yes, some fathers are bad parents and yes, some marriages should not be perpetrated at all cost, but far too many young mothers seem to think they can do the job better without a father around and many seem to be encouraged into this by the ubiquitous "Social Worker". Fatherhood has been given a very negative image in recent years again creating the mindset among many teenage boys that once they got the girl pregnant they have no further role or place in her life. Many of these do not even know for sure who their own fathers are because they are themselves from a home in which "father" changed regularly according to their mother's latest fling.

This is, as I said at the outset, a very complex issue and political ideology which pursues a "social engineered" society is not helping it at all. In fact it is a major part of the problem. Our young men and boys are being made to feel that they have no place in our future society. They feel they have been sidelined and are cut off from any hope of a meaningful place in that society. They are not given the best educational opportunities because the system has been slewed against them and feel they have no real chance of finding a suitable career and future. So what have they got to lose when they pick up a knife or a gun, deal in drugs or get a girl pregnant. In their eyes nothing and our society will have no future unless this trend is reversed - but it may already be far too late for the present generation.

3 comments:

  1. Having a 11 year old boy in the school system has been a real eye opener. Up until the 5th grade my son was "sarcastic to the point of rude", won't pay attention, willful, just to name a few. Even though he has made honor roll every year, overall grade of 3.6. He is now a model student in the track and science clubs, runs the lights for the drama club. So what happened in the 5th grade? He got a male teacher, that's all. One who didn't interpret every move in body language as a insult, understood how boys learn and used it to make the class fun for the boys.
    I had one teacher complain that boys are hard to teach which makes "the rest of the class" have to slow down, the girls. It's this aptitude that get conveyed to the boys, so if you can't win why try becomes the boys mantra.
    My mother is a special education teacher who has noticed that special ed has become a dumping ground for boys, "who just won't learn" from teacher who just don't care to teach boys.

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  2. The fact is that boys perform much better in an all male environment and they do have a totally different learning style to girls. The present system favours girls, and mixed ability and mixed sex classes certainly don't help! If a boy is made to feel inferior he will behave according to that standard. I hope we don't have to wait another generation for our "educationists" to realise this.

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  3. VWBug of One Happy Dog Speaks tried to post this comment -

    I hear you loud and clear. You have stated a lot of what worries me about my boys. Particularly how the girls dress like ... street walkers ... and no one seems to mind. When hormones kick in... that is way too much for a boy to handle. Oh well... And how to teach. Yep, I see it with my boys as well. Definitely geared towards girls. Sigh.

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