When my sister’s son was born, before I had kids of my own, I couldn’t contain my excitement and enthusiasm for visiting her and holding this precious bundle that I got to call nephew! My self-centered, egocentric brother-in-law was a bit miffed and couldn’t stand that everyone in the family was putting all the attention on the mom and the baby and loudly proclaimed: “What about the FATHER?”
At the time of course, we could have cared less about him, but despite his egotism, I have to admit that he was definitely right about something. A boy needs his father!
Whenever I had a long-term emotionally challenged situation with a young boy at school as a principal, 9 times out of 10 the father was absent or not involved. More and more it is becoming crystal clear, that boys not just in the United States, but in all countries are struggling with identity, a sense of purpose, and the skills to succeed in school and in life.
Warren Farrell, PhD, author of the book The Boy Crisis, Why Our Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It shares a blueprint for parents, teachers, and policymakers for what we can do to help our boys become happier, healthier men and fathers and leaders worthy of respect.
What Is The Boy Crisis?
- It’s an education crisis. Worldwide, boys are 50 percent less likely than girls to meet basic proficiency in reading, math, and science.
- It’s a mental health crisis. ADHD is on the rise. And as boys become young men, their suicide rates go from equal to girls to six times that of young women.
- It’s a fathering crisis. Boys are growing up with less-involved fathers and are more likely to drop out of school, drink, do drugs, become delinquent, and end up in prison.
- It’s a purpose crisis. Boys’ old sense of purpose--being a warrior, a leader, or a sole breadwinner--is fading. Many bright boys are experiencing a “purpose void, feeling alienated, withdrawn, and addicted to immediate gratification.
Farrell describes how less educated boys in the unemployment line creates the drop-out, left-out cycle.
The Drop-Out, Left-Out Cycle
- In neighborhoods where marriage is scarce, fathers are scarce, and more than half of boys don’t finish high school. The boy drops out.
- The less education a young man has, the more likely he is to be unemployed or underemployed. He’s left out of the workplace.
- Women who desire children think of an uneducated young man as undesirable, and an unemployed man as “another child”--hardly marriage material. He’s left out of marriage and fathering.
- Some of the women with whom he nonetheless has sex with become pregnant and raise children without him thus, we’re back to step one, the left-out dad and the drop-out son.
As our economy and jobs flips from muscle to mental, jobs require knowledge of the “internet of things.” Knowledge of coding, programming, physics and chemistry will be essential knowledge in the robotic and artificial intelligence job world. Boys need to have their mind developed in boy-friendly ways. The education boy crisis is real. Consider these facts:
- Nationwide, girls make up 70 percent of valedictorians, while boys get 70 percent of D’s and F’s.
- Boy’s IQ’s have dropped about 15 points since the 1980’s.
- In the United States, by eighth grade, 41 percent of girls are at least “proficient” in writing, while only 20 percent of boys are.
- Boys scored lower than girls in the sixty-three largest developed nations in which the PISA, a set of international standardized tests, was given.
- Worldwide, boys are 50 percent more likely than girls to fail to meet basic proficiency in any of the three core subjects of reading, math, and science.
- Create purpose and a concrete goal for a non academically inclined boy to use his mind. With a concrete goal to become a welder, comes motivation to study the necessary physics and chemistry necessary to become the well paid worker.
- Increase vocational education.
- Teach emphatic skills- communication skills and empathy training are essential to help boys make the transition from hero intelligence of the past to the emotional intelligence needed for our boys future.
- Take notice that the boy crisis is real and is happening not only in the United States, but worldwide. Implement action plans to address it.
What about the father? For too long, we have ignored clear signs of distress with changes in our culture and the impact on the lives, health and happiness of our boys. We must take action to rectify the situation. Our future depends on it.