Monday, June 3, 2013

Boys Need Mentors More than Ever

In 2002, the U.S. Secret Service completed the Safe School Initiative, a study of school shootings and other school-based attacks. The study examined school shootings in the United States as far back as 1974, analyzing a total of 37 incidents involving 41 student attackers …. The young men who carried out the attacks differed from one another in numerous ways. However, almost every attacker had engaged in behavior before the shooting that seriously concerned at least one adult—and for many had concerned three or more different adults …. Far from being "loners," the killers are more likely to be aspiring "joiners" whose attempts at belonging fail. Many of the shooters told Secret Service investigators that feelings of alienation or persecution drove them to violence.

It's easy to label the shooters "evil" but miss some of the less noticeable (or less violent) signs that many boys are struggling alone in our culture. Consider these statistics:
  • Boys get expelled from preschool nearly five times more often than girls
  • In elementary school, boys are diagnosed with learning disorders four times as often.
  • By eighth grade huge numbers of boys read below basic level.
  • Males graduate high school at lower rates and attend college right out of high school at lower rates.
  • Young men are three times more likely to kill themselves than young women.
Somewhere in your world, there is a young man looking to you to model real, emotional resiliency. To show him that male-to-male friendship can extend beyond work, golf, or some other idolatry and withstand life's most difficult blows. To provide entry into a … honorable … definition of what it means to be a man in the 21st century.

Adapted from R. Todd Erkel, "Boys Need Good Role Models Now More Than Ever," Utne Reader (March-April 2013)

Bruce Springsteen Talks About His Father Wounds

In a recent interview with The New Yorker, rock legend Bruce Springsteen said that his broken relationship with his father lives on in his songs. For example, in the song, "Adam Raised a Cain," the younger Springsteen sings about the father who "walks these empty rooms / looking for something to blame / You inherit the sins / You inherit the flames." The songs were a way of talking to his silent and distant father. Springsteen said,

"My dad was very nonverbal—you couldn't really have a conversation with him. I had to make my peace with that, but I had to have a conversation with him, because I needed to have one. It ain't the best way to go about it, but that was the only way I could, so I did, and eventually he did respond. He might not have liked the songs, but I think he liked that they existed. It meant that he mattered."

The past, though, is anything but past. Bruce Springsteen admitted his yearning for what he calls "Daaaddy!"

"My parents' struggles, it's the subject of my life. It's the thing that eats at me and always will …. Those wounds stay with you, and you turn them into a language and a purpose …. [The musician] T-Bone Burnett said that rock and roll is all about "Daaaddy!" It's one embarrassing scream of "Daaaddy!"

Then gesturing toward the band onstage, he said, "We're repairmen—repairmen with a toolbox. If I repair a little of myself, I'll repair a little of you. That's the job."

by David Remnick, "We Are Alive: Bruce Springsteen at sixty-two," The New Yorker (7-30-12)