Who say’s there’s no public debate about how guys are portrayed? Simon Hattenstone recently published a couple of articles aimed at redressing the media’s negative image of boys. The first was a rather sunny report on a survey of 1000 teenage boys. It found 88% of of them believed their career prospects were good and 88% regarded themselves as ambitious? I find this hard to believe; perhaps in a very well to do neighbourhood, but in the cities or the villages and in the light of these stats? –
- 97% of juvenille offenders aged 15-17 are boys
- 13% of boys aged 11-15 suffer from a mental disorder, compared with 10% of girls
- 76% of boys aged 11 achieve government-set literacy levels (85% of girls do)
- 57% of boys boys achieved A-C grade GCSEs in 2007, compared with 66% of girls
- 75% of all suicides occur among young men aged 15-34. Suicide is the second most common way for a male aged 15-34 to die
- 70% males aged under 18 who are charged for one offence go on to commit further crimes
- 9 out of 10 gang members are male
Redressing a stereotype biased toward the negative by way of one biased toward the positive reminds me of Napoleon and Squealer in Animal Farm recasting their first commandment, “Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy”, to “Four legs good, two legs better!“. Things just aren’t that black and white, but nevertheless it’s good to read something else about boys.
Simon’s article and those less encouraging stat’s, reference an interview in the New Statesman by David Lammy MP Minister for Higher Education and Intellectual Property. It’s incisive and wide ranging and starts by asking the question:
“Boys, young men and grown men are struggling to find their place in society. It is time to ask ourselves why..”
He goes on to discuss a number of probable factors and briefly touches on this gender/work issue:-
“A model of work built on physical endeavour is slowly being replaced by an emphasis on intellectual and emotional labour. Women are beginning to break through the glass ceiling, displacing men as the principal earners for the first time.”
Does the first sentence imply the second? Are women better disposed to 21st Century work and so more successful? or are boys struggling to adapt to work outside of manual, traditionally male trades?
Either way we’re probably back to needing those male role models in the home, school and modern workplace and again I wonder why I’m the only dad to stay with my youngest for 10 minutes reading together before class begins.
Just before signing off , here’s a captivating picture of teendom from PrettyWittyPoet‘s comment on Simon’s article.
“My point, if slightly tinged with self regret and, a degree of self pity at the restricted options available to myself a few years ago – is that yes, teenagers, in general, are bastards! But this is due to the repression, labelling and ‘mid-way boredom’ where they are stuck between the joys of playing with lego and downing pints in the pub – mix this with a healthy dose of ignorance, hormones, disgruntlement, the search for individuality, the desperation of acceptance, the pressures of ‘the future’, the stifling education system, poverty and sexual worries (fuelled fabulously by the warped, distorted and perverted minds of today’s media and their portrayal of what sex is all about – thanks for that), is it any wonder that many of today’s teens (male and female) turn to violence, alcohol, drugs and a general bad attitude, when faced with today’s society? Please! It’s going to take a damn sight more than Hug A Hoodie or ‘Knife Crime – It Doesn’t Have To Happen’ to sort out our nation.”
Not so sure about the accuracy of “restricted options and … repression”, but remember feeling similarly.