Countless sources and statistics are all in agreement that boys who grow up without fathers are more likely to suffer serious problems throughout their lives. They also have a higher incidence of drug abuse, spousal abuse and suicide.
According to the National Center Of Educational Statistics, boys are 30% more likely than girls to drop out of school. Boys are four times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Furthermore, boys make up two-thirds of the students in Special Education.
It is common belief at The Street Angel Project and other quarters that a lot of these issues could be corrected if boys had a loving and caring father in their lives. A positive male image to help them negotiate the journey from boyhood to becoming a man. According to Michael Thompson, Ph. D., boys are more likely to get into trouble than girls in school. This is due to the fact that they are not given enough opportunities to move around, both in actual physical activity and how they learn—because they spend too much time sitting and not enough time learning by doing, making and building things with their hands. Then, when they go home, it’s the TV, or the video game. This keeps them mentally and physically stagnant.
And last but not least, according to PBS.ORG, most elementary school teachers are women, therefore there are few male role models for learning as a masculine pursuit.
An active father, whether or not he lives at home, in most cases is the equalizer to these boyhood issues. As one old-school friend of mine told me: “My father gave me strength and courage to face life’s challenges. He taught me early on that a man has to be responsible for his actions. And that’s what I passed on to my 2 boys when they were coming up.”
Years ago, a father living in the household was the norm, not the exception. He helped his son with homework, took him to baseball games and usually provided an even mixture of guidance and discipline. He was there to help his son through the difficult formative years. His leadership was the personal “rite of passage” that assisted his maturing boy on the difficult journey into manhood.
Derek Phillips of the ‘Real Dads Network’ puts it this way: “Boys need a male role model, whether it’s the father, uncle, or grandfather. They need a male in their lives that is the yang to the mother’s yin. If you think about it, the reason why many boys join gangs is because being around other males gives them that re-enforcement of manhood that they would normally get from their father or male role model.”
Dick Barnett, former New York Knicks guard adds: “My father was my hero; he taught me the usual things about manhood, but one of the most important things I learned from him is to respect women. He didn’t have to actually tell me this, I just learned by watching how he treated my mother, sisters and every female he came into contact with.”
There’s been a lot written lately about how schools are failing young boys. In some circles it is believed that with all the attention over the past decade on the bias and shortchanging of girls, the pendulum has swung to the other side and the reality seems to be that it is now boys who are suffering. Most current statistical studies are now proving this in a wide-ranging area.
We posed the question to Lonny Shockley, head counselor at ‘Friends Of The Island Academy’ about why boys, specifically boys of color, are having such a hard time. “In a word—anger.” he replied. “Young Black boys have anger deep inside them. The anger could be due to the conditions they live in, the failure to get ahead in school, or the way society views them in general.
“This anger consciously or sub-consciously affects everything they do and everyone they come into contact with.
“Here in our program, we’re finding the anger males have is also being played out when they are involved with females in a relationship. One of the things we do in our young men’s group is have them understand this, then try to get to the root causes of why they’re angry and go from there.”
There is no understating the importance of a father or father-image in a boy’s life. There is also no understating all the societal problems boys have if there is no male role model in their lives. A father’s job is not just to create a child. He should also be a nurturer, protector, and teacher.
It’s time for all fathers to stand up and be counted. ^