Boys Put at Peril(1)
Researchers recently discussed violent boys at the annual meeting of the American Psychological
Association [responding partly to concern over public concern over recent mass killings at
schools]. They said raising boys in traditional ways makes it hard for boys to handle adversity and
lays the foundation for depression and violence ranging from bullying to murder.
Some experts believe we are raising males teenagers to be strong, silent carriers of a smoldering
climate of despair which explodes in violence.
Incidence of violent crimes such as "Columbine:"
Increase is statistically small:
- 1992 = 2 incidents with 4 victims
- 1999 = 6 incidents (mostly in suburbia) with 16 victims
Researchers state that boys are still raised under a code of toughness which encourages action but
discourages expression of feeling or touch, according to Dan Kindlon, Harvard School of Public
"Cross-cultural studies demonstrated a clear link between violent societies and those that treat
children with little physical warmth,"said Tiffany Field, University of Miami researcher.
"For some boys who are not allowed tears, they will cry with their fists or they will cry with
bullets." William Pollace, Harvard Medical School psychologist.
Their Advice for Raising Boys:
- Give physical affection freely to boys
- Allow them to show their feelings
- Reject the belief that boys are inherently more violent than girls.
Their Advice for Educators:
- Foster friendlier schools
- Provide more counseling
- Not shirk from physically comforting a hurt child (risky in today's society with worry
about false accusations of sexual abuse).
1. The Associated Press, "The Way Society Treats Boys Breeds Violence...", reported in the
Kansas City Star, 1999, p.A8