If you’re the parent or guardian of a boy who is troubled, you’re not alone. America’s boys are in crisis right now; and most likely they are everywhere but I’m talking about what I see right here, right now. Our schools and communities don’t have the systems in place that we need to fight this growing problem.
Troubled Boys Without Fathers
One of the most common issues our boys face is growing up without their fathers. According to estimates, one in three boys currently lives in a home without a father or other strong male role model. Or, Dad lives in the home but isn’t emotionally present; maybe he’s working 60 hours a week and has no time for his son.
What’s that mean? According to most studies of the subject, they are more likely than the rest of their peers to drop out of school, get involved in gangs, experience trouble with the law, and experiment with drugs and alcohol.
My research studies show that when a boy gets in serious trouble, there’s a very good chance he’s growing up without a father.
- 70% of adolescent boys in residential treatment centers are fatherless
- 72% of juveniles in state reform institutions grew up without parents or in single-parent homes and
- 72% of adolescent murderers grew up without fathers.
- The most shocking…more than 75% of all crime in America is committed by men who were fatherless as children.
Boys Are Suffering
I’m not saying every boy who is suffering is fatherless. Plenty of boys raised by single mothers grow up to be healthy, happy and whole members of society. But, I am saying there are many boys who aren’t any “trouble” who are struggling in school, feeling sadness or depression, having trouble in their relationships with their peers or families. They may even be experiencing physical pain or illness that is caused by their mental stress.
Now I’m going to say something you might not like…over the last 25 years or so, we have ignored our boys. A significant amount of attention has been focused on girls and young women, which was certainly needed, but we, society, have been ignoring the boys and they’re struggling.
Why are they having such a rough time growing up?
Why are so many of them struggling to find their way in the world?
And, can we, the people who care about them, do anything about it?
I say we can, but first we have to agree, accept and decide we’re going to do something about it. This is what I aim to do when I work with boys during the 10 week Quest Project (a troubled teens program). And that is what we’ll be exploring in future articles.
In the meantime, I’m curious to know your thoughts about how we can address the epidemic of troubled boys in our society. Please post your comments, questions or challenges in the comments below.