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The frightening decline of America's boys

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This frightening decline among boys and men represent a huge danger to the future viability to us all. But it is being ignored by our government, scientific community and our media.

Kevin and Marilyn
Ryan

Behind the gun violence stories, behind the campus rape stories, behind the opioid stories is a larger and more threatening story. It's about boys. Boys growing up to be... boys. Boys being stunted. Boys permanently underdeveloped, seemingly unable or unprepared to be men.

While educators and editors have been wringing their hands over the lack of women among the ranks of CEOs and senators, and the lack of gender equality in our schools' K-12 English literature curriculum, they have taken their collective eyes off what has been happening with America's boys.

Boys are a mess! They are failing in life.

As many have reported, including us, girls are outperforming boys from junior high through graduate and professional schools. Shortly after the turn of the century, more girls and young women than boys are going to college, getting higher grades, getting through quicker with fewer disciplinary issues, getting more academic prizes, getting scholarships to elite graduate programs including law and medicine and, in total, garnishing more masters and doctoral degrees.

Ask a friendly college professor if there is a difference between his male and female students and you will doubtlessly hear reports of young women coming to class with a cooperative attitude, questions for the professor and a serious work ethic. Boys are comfortable sitting in the back, seemingly unsure why they are there and notable for their uneven attendance and mediocre performance.


Sturdier and more available are the social indicators showing clearly that boys are in trouble. Their plight is behind those stories cited above. Boys have committed the horrendous school shootings in Parkland and Newtown -- and all the other schools. They are responsible for the 500-plus shooting deaths in Chicago last year. They are the rapists and sexual harassers who have turned life on our college campuses into a sexual jungle. They are the ones who have fallen so easily into the grip of drugs and opioids. For instance, males, mostly young, account for 73 percent of our opioid over-dose deaths.

Our "baby-men" represent 90 percent of our prison inmates and, of course, the majority of the nation's murderers and perpetrators of violent crime. They account for 77 percent of the nation's very high suicide rate. Their life expectancy is five years shorter than women and they are twice as likely to be alcoholics. Seven million working age men simply don't work. They are chronically unemployed. They have dropped out of the working roles, half of whom are on pain medications.

Boys are leaving their high schools without graduating at much higher rates than girls and fewer go on to colleges, leaving them unprepared to work, particularly in the new economy. Employers complain that they lack the basics, such as "showing up on time!" One-in-five continue to live with their moms, twice the 1970s number. When they do work, they make less than their female age group. Between 1979 and 2010, male workers saw their real wages drop 20 percent while those of women rose.

Today, more young men live with their parents than are married or live with a partner. Not only do women score higher on I.Q. tests, but young men are in terrible physical condition. Fully half the young men recruited for the Army flunk the physical, 70 percent of those because they are obese. Male sperm count is down 60 percent since the 1970s. There has been a simple decline in male testosterone levels. Men are failing in body and mind and spirit.

This frightening decline among boys and men represent a huge danger to the future viability to us all. But it is being ignored by our government, scientific community and our media. Much of what we have written comes from a series of programs done by Tucker Carlson during the month of March. All are available on YouTube and we urge you to check them out.

This is the point in columns and articles when the knowing authors, having set up a serious problem, provide the answer -- the hoped-for, missing solution that will set things right. We regret that is not what will happen here. While the problem of boys is real and frightening, it is also vast and multi-dimensional. It is also quite individual, effecting one boy and one family at a time. What we can offer is a handful of suggestions borrowed from many sources. Among them:

-- Get to know what is going on in the head of your boy. Start observing. Set aside time and start talking with him.

-- From early on, give him real jobs and chores to do. Actively teach him how to work, how to use his hands and develop real skills, and reward him when he performs his chores well.

-- Monitor what is entering his head, whether from TV, cell phones, films or friends. Wean him from violent video games. Do not let him get captured by the ubiquitous pornography that is the secret and hidden world of most boys today.

-- At least during high school, take him out of a school that is corrupting his mind and soul. Send him to an all-boys school. If you can't afford it, start demanding that your tax dollars can be diverted to such schools.

-- Work to instill in him the ideals of manhood. Put him in connection with strong male role models.

-- Instead of passively sending him off to weekly church and religious instruction, make him see that his faith provides a blueprint for his becoming a strong, virtuous and happy man.

Whether or not you have a son or a grandson, take this problem of boys seriously. Talk about it. Demand changes in our secular culture, a culture that is corrupting our young men and drastically undermining our nation.

Kevin and Marilyn Ryan, editors of "Why I'm Still a Catholic," worship at St. Lawrence Church in Brookline, Mass.

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