Boys In Crisis

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by acidicspecies08, Jun 1, 2008.

  1. acidicspecies08

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    I posted not long ago about corporal punishment and how in can effect a childs mental health. Through some research that I did, and some comments in response to my post that I read, I began to notice a disturbing trend.

    As was posted on this board, boys are more likely to be victims of severe neglect and be placed in foster care. Through my research I also found that boys are usually raised in much stricter households than girls, commit suicide more than girls, drop out of school more than girls, are falling behind girls in school (especially in reading and writing), don't go to college as often as girls, are more likely to engage in violent behavior and do drugs than girls, and generally just live a more miserable existence than girls (from what I can see, please correct me if anyone has evidence to the opposite).

    Some responses to this information (particularly the info about violence, drugs, and educational failings) is that all the boys need is a firm hand from Dad, and that'll set'em straight. One person even stated that "None of these problems would be happening if they brought back beatings. The belt and the cane, thats all they need" which I view as overly simplistic and entirely wrong (on more than just practical levels, I disagree with physical punishment on a moral level as well).

    My question is: what the hell is going on? what do you guys think is the route of all of these problems? and, more importantly, how do you think we should solve them?

    I have a professional stake in this since I plan on working with kids after I receive my MSW (in what capacity I don't know, but I just work well with kids and I feel I can connect with them better than most) and these are issues I will have to deal with when I get out into the field.
     
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  3. KillerDiller

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    This post raises two somewhat disparate responses from me. First, although I am not familiar with all of the literature indicated here by any means, my sense is that the issue is a lot more complicated than simply that boys lead more miserable existences. For example, although males complete suicide more often, females attempt it more often--so that in and of itself does not provide evidence that males are in some sort of unrecognized and unique crisis. I also think that the fact that more females are attending college than males is due in part to females only recently being allowed within the walls of the more prestigious universities. My sense is that the reason a higher percentage of females attend is because it is a novel opportunity that their grandmothers and in some cases even their mothers were unable to take advantage of. If this is the case, the percentages of males and females attending college will even out as more time passes.

    My second response is that it is always my bias to think that individual differences account for much more of a person's behavior than biological sex. So, I think that crisis interventions should be framed in order to address the needs of the more violent populations, the more academically challenged populations, etc. without regard to whether the targeted clients are male or female.
     
  4. acidicspecies08

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    Your first point about girls attempting suicide more is interesting, but I think that that has more to do with communication than anything else. Girls who attempt suicide are often (not always, but often) trying to communicate that they have a problem and that they want people to pay attention to it. Attempted suicide is often considered a "cry for help" and I think girls are more likely to cry for help and reach out to others about their problems than boys (think "boys don't cry"), whereas boys who commit suicide, I think, have already gone passed the reaching out stage (probably without letting anyone know what is happening to them) and into the "life is *#$& and I don't want to live anymore" phase. And, in addition to the old stand-by of slitting your wrists and dying in your bathroom, guys are now starting to take others down with them (Colmubine, Virginia Tech, etc.) and are getting worldwide news coverage for it.

    As for the part about girls going off to college because their mothers and grandmothers weren't allowed to and so they feel that they should take advantage of the opportunity? I wish I could say that their thought process went that far. I am currently an undergraduate and I know and am friends with lots of girls at my school and I can honestly say that I don't any of them consider college to be much more than just "what you do after high school" and an obsticle course that they have to go through to get where they want to go (just like guys). I'm not saying that what you described may not be a motive for some girls, but I think it would be a stretch to attribute it to the vast majority of girls entering college.

    I don't literally think boys live a more miserable existence by the way :) that was a tad bit of melodrama, I admit, but it just seemed that through my research I could hardly find one area or facet of life in which boys/young men are not suffering in some way (not all of us are, but according to the research enough of us are to take notice).
     
  5. KillerDiller

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    Although I am sure a fair number of people who attempt suicide but fail to complete it are undertaking a cry for help, I would also argue that the sex difference in suicide rates is driven largely by a difference in the methods that are selected. It's a hard area to research, but I would bet that girls who attempt suicide wish to die no less than boys who attempt suicide, it's just that their methodology is less violent. For example, slitting one's wrists has a much lower fatality rate than putting a gun to one's head (or to the heads of other people first). I would say that the sex differences come into play because males are more likely to be socialized to violent acts such as using guns in order to kill themselves whereas females are less socialized to violence and thus more likely to select slower (and consequently less fatal) methods.

    As for the girls electing to go to college because it is a new opportunity, it doesn't have to manifest itself in individual college undergrads saying this is why they are going to school. The people who are telling these girls that college is what you do after high school are their grandmothers and mothers and the people in society who wish to see girls take advantage of higher education.

    A piece of the literature that you might find really interesting looks at how the elimination of recess and gym class in schools may be creating a disadvantage for males in the classroom because they no longer have an outlet for their energies. I think this is a very astute finding although, of course, from my perspective, I would argue that it's the more active children in general who are being put at a disadvantage and not just the boys. As a girl who played tackle football during recess in elementary school, I know I would have struggled had that time been taken away from me :)
     
  6. JockNerd

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    Minor contribution: the less surefire suicide methods that women favor are also less disfiguring. You can take a lot out of that, though.
     
  7. Thrak

    Thrak RU experienced?
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    I can't speak to many of the issues. I do think that the difference in dropout rates and college enrollment may be partially due to the fact that men can more readily (and more enthusiastically) get jobs in which a college education or even high school degree is not required.

    I think for at least some programs (college, grad school, professional school) there's more of an effort to "correct historical wrongs" which means keeping the finger on the scale for some women. At this point, psychology's probably not one of them, and I wouldn't be shocked if men start getting the benefit of the doubt soon. I can't really tell you what the "this is too far, we need to correct this" point is, but I'd guess it's somewhere around 55-60% for most things.

    I'd want to see the numbers broken down by economics, though. Are fewer upper and upper-middle class men going to college at significantly lower rates than upper and upper-middle class women? What about middle class? What about working class? And just as important, how are these numbers changing from 10, 15, 20 years ago? The numbers may be going up across the board, just more slowly for some groups compared to others.

    Overall, at least as it applies to education, we need to also accept the possibility that boys/men aren't doing worse than before... that women would have been outperforming men for years if they weren't being held back by the system/societal expectations/gender roles, and as they are given a fair shot, they're collectively reaching their natural potentials.
     
  8. acidicspecies08

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    I know this thread has been dead for awhile but I was wondering if anyone here has ever read any of Dr. Leonard Sax's work, particularly his boy entitle Why Gender Matters? I ask because after reading it I felt quite repulsed by what he was saying. He beleieves that yound boys can be spanked, but that young girls should never be spanked, and that boys should receive strict authoritarian discipline based on power assertion, whereas girls should be disciplined by appealing to their empathy.Their are other things that he said that bothered me but that botheredme the most. What do you guys think? Am I just being overly sensitive, or is this really the blatant sexist double standard I think it is?Please speak freely, thanks :)
     
  9. acidicspecies08

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    Hey guys!I know its been a while and this thread is pretty much officially dead, but I came across something that I think would be interesting to talk about.I did some research and found that one of the main mouth-pieces in the debate over the "boy crisis" is a medical doctor and psychologist named Leonard Sax, whose books Boys Adrift and Why Gender Matters focus on not only the rise of unmotivated and underachieving young men, but also on what he believes to be the "innate" biological differences between the sexes.I read some of Dr. Sax's work and I found myself quite taken aback and, in some cases, sickened by some of his statements. Dr. Sax believes that pretty much every difference between boys and girls is biological and begin from birth (he makes no mention, from what I can see, of any possibility that social conditioning/learning could play a part in the development of these differences) and that they should be treated very differently from birth.Dr. Sax believes that young boys can be spanked, but young girls should never be spanked, and that boys need strict discipline involving power assertion, and that girls need to be disciplined by appealing to their empathy. He also believes that teachers should smile at girls and look them in the eyes, but should never smile at or look boys in the eyes.Essentially, from what I can see, his general belief is that boys need to be bullied and girls need to be coddled. I'm sorry, but I just can't wrap my head around the idea that an educated DOCTOR can make such blatantly sexist statements, and actually have them be true (and by that I mean, scientifically valid).Can someone please help me out with this? Am I just being overly sensitive about this, or do I have reason to be concerned about what this man is writing about? I just feel that Dr. Sax makes such blatant generalizations about boys and girls that I know that a lot of people don't fit into (me being one of them) and I feel that this kind of pseudoscientific (or at least, thats what it appears to be) is going to lead to a lot of unhappy and hurt kids.Sorry for the long post, rant over :)
     
  10. Jon4PsyD

    Jon4PsyD Go Red Sox
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    First of all: Kudos to you for attempting to keep this thread alive, it is such an important and relevant topic.

    I will really have to check out the book first but if what you're saying is true...I do not see anything original by what Dr. Sax is suggesting. Punish (or even reward) boys for their bad/good actions....isn't that the current problem? That most are looking at the actions and not the feelings/personality? I'd be interested to see if he's actually worked with children...

    Jon
     
  11. acidicspecies08

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    He's a medical doctor and psychologist with a private practice I believe. On his website it says that he is a family practitioner, so I would imagine he deals with children on a regular basis (unfortunately).I don't so much care about whether or not his method works (I know, I'm not being very objective) as much as I am just really offended at such a blanket generalization about how girls can be reasoned with and boys can't, like we're dumb dogs who only respect force and power. I know plenty of girls who would fit this criteria and plenty of boys who wouldn't, so to hear this guy spout out these statements is very troubling to me.
     
  12. acidicspecies08

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    I gues what bothers me the most about this is that I really do think that boys in this country need help. Academic performance aside, drug use, school shootings, rising suicide rates, and many other issues are really taking a toll on our young men, and it just bothers me to see this so-called specialist spout out these theories that, in my opinion, could do some real harm to many boys. People need responsible and reliable scientific research to rely on to fix this problem that we have in this country, and unfortunately many people are turning to this man for answers. I just get the feeling we're gonna be supplimenting one problem for another, but thats just my opinion :)
     
  13. KillerDiller

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    Any type of generalization based on gender rubs me the wrong way (be it that girls need more empathy or that boys are in "more trouble" growing up). My area of research has indicated to me that individual differences greatly outweigh gender differences when it comes to many constructs. So, if this Dr. Sax is saying that we should be raising boys and girls differently from birth, I'd say he's full of it. Also, I'm not so sure girls are getting the long end of the stick (is there a "long end of the stick"?) in Dr. Sax's bargain. I, for one, don't want to be coddled. If I am doing something wrong then tell me straight out I'm doing it wrong, don't patronize me.
     
  14. acidicspecies08

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    I agree with you on not wanting to be patronized or coddled. My issue with Dr. Sax's theory is that he paints an image of boys/young men in which we are not capable of undertsanding empathy and reasoning and need strict discipline and control or else we'll run rapant and becme lazy, unmotivated, emasculated losers. I agree with you on putting a greater emphasis on the individual rather than on their gender. According to Sax's profile of the average healthy boy: he must be aggresive, competitive, seek to dominate, love math, be good at science, etc. pretty much every possible stereotype in the book. According to this profile, I and a number of other guys that I know must have hideous problems with our brains because I for one do not fit into a single one of these descriptions and neither do they. How does he explain stay-at-home Dads, male nurses, male kindergarten teachers, male socia workers (i.e. the future me), etc.? how does he explain female boxers, police officers, soldiers, athletes, etc.? their are just so many holes in his theory I hardly know where to begin.
     
  15. acidicspecies08

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    p.s. I checked out Dr. Sax's bio and it appears that he has a PhD in psychology, not clinical, education or any other applied form of psychology and it appears that he did not receive his PhD with any kine of concentration in child psychology. I am starting to get the impression that either A) psychology is his side interest, whereas medicine is his actual profession and area of expertise, or B) It appears that he is a big proponent of single-sex education and I'm not entirely sure whether his push for single-sex education is biasing (is that a word?) his research, or if his research is informing his push for single-sex education.
     
  16. KillerDiller

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    Strange, I've never even heard of a Ph.D in general psychology. I wonder where he went to school.
     
  17. acidicspecies08

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    From his bio it states that he graduated from a joint M.D.-Ph.D. program at the the University of Pennsylvaniam. It doesn't state a concentration (clinical, education, social, etc.)
     

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