Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Are Our Boys In Crisis?

Growing up has never been easy, but the evidence indicates that it's been getting a whole lot tougher in recent years for boys. While the feminist movement has brought much needed attention to issues facing girls and young women in our culture during the past two decades, a similar commitment to critical issues facing boys and young men has failed to materialize.

One result is that from 1995 to 2005 males 15 to 24 years old were more than five times more likely to commit suicide than were females of the same age.

According to William S. Pollack, director of the Centers for Men and Young Men at McLean Hospital (Harvard Medical School), psychological, educational, and other problems affecting male youths have worsened to such a degree that the word "crisis" may well be required to adequately describe them.

Rachael Rettner recently penned an informative and sobering article on this subject for LiveScience.com (excerpts follow):

"... it tends to be boys whose deeper problems are not looked into, and for whom programs that exist are not funded ... that’s absolutely true."

... compared with girls, American boys have lower literacy rates, lower grades, less engagement during school and higher drop-out rates. Boys also have higher rates of suicide, arrests and premature death.

... From 1995 to 2005, the rate of suicide among 20 to 24 year-old boys was 20.7 suicides per 100,000, while the rate for girls was just 3.5 per 100,000. Among 15 to 19 year olds, the rates were 12.5 per 100,000 for boys and 2.8 per 100,000 for girls.

An expert quoted in Rettner's article brings attention to the alarming increase in the gender gap with regard to suicide rates. In 1933 young males killed themselves 1.54 times more often than did young females, but by 2005 the rate among males had grown to 4.63 times the female rate. It's a profound and deeply disturbing fact that in just over 70 years, the suicide gap has fully tripled in size.

These numbers are a real punch in the gut.

How are we so favoring one gender and ignoring the other in so many critical areas that such brutal, heart-bruising statistics could come to reflect reality in our society?



Certainly, our girls and young women deserve all the help and dedicated, devoted attention we can give them. But we've got to start earnestly and deliberately addressing the emergency affecting our young men, who we love no less, and who at present are, apparently, in even greater need of rescue.

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