Long time readers will already know that I have a concern about boys being left behind by American society. I am not alone, but too few influencers speak up on behalf of boys and young men who struggle to find their place in this rapidly changing economy and social climate that prefers females. There must be hundreds, perhaps thousands, of non-profit organizations devoted to girls and women. How many are devoted to boys and young men? Very few, apparently.
Witness… Whenever I go to America Online (I do have an e-mail account there) I see on its “home page” an area called “Make a Difference.” The organizations being promoted there are almost always devoted to helping females–girls or women. Once, a couple years ago, I managed to make contact with the AOL “team” that operates that department. I asked them to at least occasionally promote there a non-profit organization devoted to helping boys and men. They said they didn’t know of any. So I found one for them. They did then, once, devote that space to promoting that organization. Never again, so far as I can tell, have they promoted an organization devoted to boys or men.
The rise of girls and women in American society corresponds with (I don’t say causes) a decline of boys and men. Newsweek called it “The Boy Crisis” and numerous books have studied and attempted to explain it. The drop out rate and chronic under employment rate among boys and young men is astonishingly high–compared with those among boys and young women. Eighty percent of all suicides between the ages of fourteen and twenty-eight are males. Eighty percent. Does anyone care? I can’t tell.
Recently I have seen a very few public admissions of this crisis. I remember well when Laura Bush was interviewed by a “star” female news caster and interviewer what her “project” would be as First Lady. She said simply “boys.” The interviewer screwed up her face and said sarcastically “Boys? Why boys?” The first lady said “Boys are in trouble in this country.” The interviewer quickly changed the subject.
Last evening (Sunday, March 20) the television magazine show “60 Minutes” featured an all boys school in Newark, New Jersey called Saint Benedict’s Prep School. It was such a moving segment that it actually brought me to tears–that someone cares about boys/young men. It’s not a “normal” school. You need to watch the segment to see that for yourself. The boys are devoted to helping each other. The graduation rate and the rate of acceptance into colleges and universities is extremely high.
To AOL I say “Please become gender fair and include in the Make a Difference corner of your web site organizations that help boys. They exist. Start with Saint Benedict’s in Newark.”
During the segment of “60 Minutes” the interviewer, Scott Pelley, who I like very much as an interviewer, said to a counselor associated with Saint Benedict’s (paraphrasing) that all teenage boys are trouble (something to that effect). This is a stereotype and self-fulfilling prophecy. You couldn’t say it on national television about any other group of human beings, who can’t help being what they are, and get away with it. I personally know many teenage boys who are not trouble, not a problem to anyone, who have much to offer and will if given a chance. There are too few organizations devoted to giving them a chance.
Thank God for Saint Benedict’s Prep School and others like it–although I don’t know of any others like it.