As a society we appear to be really dropping the ball, because the numbers indicate that American boys are deeply struggling in just about every area.
Many professionals are pointing to a “crisis of fatherhood” as one of the key factors, and as I pointed out the other day, approximately a third of all U.S. children are now being raised in a home without a father. Of course this negatively affects our girls as well, but there is something about that lack of a masculine role model that seems to particularly hurt boys. However, the lack of a traditional family structure cannot explain all of the numbers that I am about to share with you. As you will see, we are facing a crisis that will not easily be solved.
Warren Farrell, the co-author of a new book entitled “The Boy Crisis: Why Our Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It”, has identified three key areas that he is most concerned about.
The first is education…
It is a crisis of education. Worldwide, 60% of the students who achieve less than the baseline level of proficiency in any of the three core subjects of the Program for the International Assessment are boys. Even boys’ IQs are dropping.
Today, girls are educationally outperforming boys in elementary school, middle school and high school.
And by the time college rolls around, the performance gap is absolutely enormous. In fact, females have earned at least 57 percent of all bachelor’s degrees in the United States for 18 years in a row.
The second area Farrell is deeply concerned about is mental health…
It is a crisis of mental health. Boys’ suicide rate goes from only slightly more than girls before age 14 to three times that of girls’ between 15 and 19, to 4 1/2 times that of girls between 20 and 24. Mass shooters, prisoners and Islamic State terrorism recruits are at least 90% male.
In addition to all of that, males commit 90 percent of all homicides in the United States, and men lead women by a very wide margin in just about every other violent crime category as well.
This is one area where the lack of a father in the home really seems to make a difference. According to one very alarming study, when there is a 1 percent increase in fatherlessness in a neighborhood, on average it leads to a 3 percent rise in adolescent violence.
Sadly, it appears that our young people are steadily becoming unhappier over time. The following numbers come from the Free Beacon…
Recent years have seen a rise in Americans 12 to 25 saying they are unhappy. Since 2012, the proportion of 8th and 10th graders who tell the Monitoring the Future survey that they felt unhappy has crept up from 13 percent to 18 percent. In roughly the same time, the proportion of 18- to 25-year-olds who say they are unhappy has risen from 11 to 17 percent, according to the General Social Survey.
And as I pointed out in one recent article, other studies have found a clear link between unhappiness and social media use.
The Internet can be used for great good, but it can also be heavily toxic, and today many of our young people are “plugged in” almost constantly…
Essentially 100 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds are on social media. Fifty-four percent think they spend too much time on their cellphone; 72 percent of teens say their phone is sometimes the first thing they look at upon waking up.
This, Twenge argues in her book iGen, explains a lot about why they are unhappy. Using several national surveys, Twenge argues that screen-using activities are linked to indicators of depression and unhappiness. For example, she finds that kids using devices more than three hours a day are 30 percent more likely to have an indicator of suicidality.
The third major area that Farrell is deeply concerned about is physical health…
It is a crisis of physical health. American men’s life expectancy has decreased two-tenths of a year even as American women’s has remained the same. Boys and men are dying earlier in 14 out of 15 of the leading causes of death.
Overall, men are living 4.9 years less than women in the United States.
One thing that would help would be to encourage our young men to avoid engaging in extremely risky behavior. Young males tend to get hooked on drugs and alcohol at much higher rates than young females, and one recent study found that an alarming percentage of our boys are having sex before they reach the age of 13. The following comes from CBS News…
Talking to your children about sex can be awkward, but new research suggests that parents need to have those conversations much earlier than they do.
In two national surveys, investigators found that between 4% and 8% of boys reported having sex before they were 13. That number varied greatly depending on where the boys lived. In San Francisco, just 5% of boys said they had sex before 13, but in Memphis that number jumped to 25%.
Can that number for Memphis possibly be accurate?
I certainly hope not.
Unfortunately, it is not just in the United States where boys are falling behind. If you can believe it, boys are educationally behind girls in each of the 63 largest developed nations.
The world has changed, and it appears to be leaving boys behind.
But what is going to happen when all of those boys grow up?
The young people of today are the future, and right now that future is not looking very promising at all.