Last December, 20 year old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and six adult staff members at an Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
A 12 year old boy steals his parents’ gun, shoots two students, wounding them, and kills a math teacher (and retired marine), before taking his own life in Navada.
14 year old Philip Chism stabs a math teacher with a box cutter, stuffs her body in a garbage can, rolls it out, and dumps it in the woods at the back of his school building in Danvers, Massachusetts.
What do all of these recent, severe cases have in common? All of the crimes were committed by young men, and they all had schools involved.
Why is this so important for all people to consider?
First we will consider why we should observe the young men involved.
Male Youth, Violence and Crime
Anyone is capable of committing a crime. I don’t care if you’re old, young, light-skinned, dark-skinned, man, or woman, anybody can be crazy or have a mental break-down.
However, we can’t ignore statistics. The United States Department of Justice compiled homicide statistics between the years 1980-2008, though the annual rates also cover 2009 and 2010.
Let’s first review a Wikipedia article that covers the sex differences in crime:
From reading the article above, I’ve gathered these facts:
1) Among the people who committed homicides in the years between 1980-2008, 90% were male.
2) Young adult black males had the highest homicide offending rates than any other races (though I’m sure by now it has gone up for the other races as well).
3) Among the children under age 5 killed by a parent, rates for biological fathers were slightly higher than mothers. Yet, among the children under 5 killed by someone other than their parents, 80% of them were male.
4) Male murderers were more than likely to use guns, and 91% of gun-related homicides were committed by men.
5) Violent Crime statistics report that males are more typically openly violent and aggressive. While women are equally aggressive in verbal ways and in matters that damage property, men use physical aggression and are more likely to kill someone than a woman would, though in a domestic situation, the stats prove to be equal among the genders. Women tend to avoid direct physical aggression, and will more than likely stop socializing with a person, give the cold shoulder, reject others from social groups, gossip, and stigmatize a person.
They even tested same-sex marriage. Pop Center (http://www.popcenter.org) did a survey that showed “women living with men were more than likely to experience violence, than women living with women.” It also showed that 15% of men living with other men experienced violence and aggression within their relationships. This shows that men tend to be more violent than women.
These statistics reveal a problem that plagues America’s males: the need to solve most of their problems through violence and bloody murder.
These statistics do not even include the number of crimes committed by men that aren’t aggressive, such as stealing, drug dealing, carjacking, kidnapping, which the stats for those are also higher for men than for women. Young males are made to be America’s criminals, and are a threat to the peace of the nation.
Males and Disorders
Statistics also show that a shocking number of males are more than likely to suffer from genetic and mental disorders than females! They are also more than likely to hide the illness, and commit suicide from it! This also reveals another deep issue plaguing our males: They need help for their mental illnesses.
This leads many, including myself, pondering over why so many of America’s men feel the need to take another’s life, and why so many males suffer from mental illness. What is going through their minds? Are expectations higher for men than for women? Perhaps society is too hard on them? Are men treated worse by society? Or do they simply just lack maturity, a sense of responsibility, and self-control? Can’t men, who are expected to be “problem-solvers” in our society, find other solutions to a problem other than taking the life of another? Do our men value life enough to spare someone? And does society encourage our young boys to be “bad”? Are men proud of their ways, to the point that they can’t accept criticism or help when they need it?
I have many of my own theories for some of the problems plaguing our male youth. As someone who works in a school building, I have been able to observe young males and their behavior patterns. Particularly, I work with special needs children. I can confirm that most of them are male.
Here are some things that I feel contribute to the male’s love of violence, aggression, and the increasing number of mental disorders.
Society Encourages Aggression in Males
In most movies, shows, video games, and music directed to males, males are often seen in roles where they must use some form of aggression.
Most of our video games require a male to kill something or someone else to save the day. Males throughout history have always usually played the role of “chaos”, and often don’t mind playing the “devil”, and glamorizing it. Movies such as The Omen, Dennis the Menace, and Problem Child are such examples. Boys are more than likely to side with villains, and men are more than likely to play the role of villain than females. This is not to say females do not play such games or get involved in such roles, but females are least likely to be influenced by these roles than men are.
Music that most males enjoy tend to be of an aggressive nature. More men will claim to be into rap or heavy metal than females, and tend to show a lack of respect for softer genres, like Opera or pop music. Soft music has been said to lower blood pressure, therefore it’s not shocking that men have higher blood pressure than women.
Men are far more likely to use profanity in their households than women, and men use aggressive speech more often than females do in their day-to-day language.
Having entertainment glamorize such scenarios, young males are least likely to look at violence, aggression, or weapons realistically or seriously, even if they never harm anyone. Even with the recent murders, I’ve found that the boys in my class often respond to the crime articles in the news with solutions that involve violence. The young males also continue to plot tricks, plot harm to other students, and even tell me how they can kill someone in a day, despite what has been happening recently. They seem desensitized by all that’s going on, and their response is scarily excited by it all, in fact.
And it’s hard to convince a male that any of this is wrong or needs censoring. He may simply laugh at you, call you a retard, or attack your political viewpoint. His way of handling things is hardly civil as he seems to be in fear of surrender. Pride is a rope that hangs these young men. Society encourages men to stand by what they believe, without compromise. While in many situations, this quality can be an asset, in other situations this quality is foolish, and can be very unhealthy. Some may stand by something even if proven otherwise, just for the sake of pride. Many times, men can’t admit defeat for fear of being teased or mocked. Women usually don’t have such fears, and therefore can just drop a topic or reach a common thought that includes both ideas.
This could be in part because most young women have had moral shows, movies, books, and music geared toward them. They have had positive role models that teach them how to live with others, how to work as a team, how to be a good friend, how to react when one makes a mistake, including themselves, etc. Boys hardly have such positive material. The author Valerie Tripp also made note of that, and has been working on a series of books that give boys good role models. But sadly, our young men have been so entrenched in the world of violence and pride, they may not be able to swallow their habits.
Boys might think this sounds weak, but really self-control and morality are strengths, strengths that people today have given up because they are too weak to live up to such high expectations. Shows like Hey Arnold! show that a boy can be strong and a hero, and still have a sense of morale about him. Sadly, very few shows today are like this.
Interestingly enough, men also encourage the use of weapons and drugs more than women do in political matters. More men are against gun control than women are, and men are more than likely to purchase a gun before a woman does. Ironically, they also are more than likely to commit a homicide by gun. This leads me to question whether most men are responsible enough to own a gun. More men are more than likely to feel satisfied with killing someone than women, and will even feel the victim “deserved” it. They are least likely to show compassion towards someone who is gunned down, and are more than likely to want to copy the crime so they can settle issues in their own lives.
Even though women do not own guns, that would supposedly help them “defend” themselves, they are still least likely to be victims of crime!
We Don’t Protect Our Boys
Men aren’t expected to cry, show signs of depression, or any sort of surrender. Who is expecting this of them? Society. Their peers. Their parents, especially their fathers. Their girlfriends. Their wives. Why? Because we expect men to protect and defend. They are thought to have bigger bodies and deeper voices, and so we want to “hide” behind the presence of man. Fathers encourage it because many believe it will help a man become more independent and less whiny. Really, though, it’s truly counter-productive.
Not showing emotions or shedding tears can obviously be unhealthy. We were made to cry for a reason. Crying has been shown to be a healthy release, and lifts the mood. Tears remove toxins that build up from stress. Crying can also lower a person’s manganese level. If we restrict our men from displaying such emotions, we are in fact harming them!
Fathers tend to be more protective of their daughters than their sons. Most parents usually don’t care as much about whose house their sons are going over to, where they are taking the family car, who they are dating at the current moment, and how late they are out as they do their daughters.
Young males are expected to get jobs much sooner than young women, where the pressure isn’t as intense for them. They are expected to “man-up” at an early age, when this is not a realistic expectation of children.
Boys are more than likely to hide feelings than to talk about them, and most parents brush off their son’s feelings, assuming he’ll “get over it”.
With the lack of attention, it’s no wonder young males have access to so many things and so much free time to get into stuff.
Why aren’t parents as protective of their sons as they are their daughters? This question is left without answers.
Of course, parents may talk about issues they feel boys should know, like drugs and sex, but what about other problems that plague youth? All problems considered important for girls should equally be considered for boys. Otherwise, you’ll end up with more young men taking advantage of these gray areas so that they can do some serious harm to others. We shouldn’t wait for our sons to come to us, because they won’t. We should be coming to them, hounding them about their day, encouraging them to pour out their hearts. We shouldn’t only encourage sports in young men, but creative outlets, outlets that encourage self-expression, like music and art. But I can say this until I’m blue in the face, and the pride of man will never go for it. Why not? What is so threatening about this?
Maybe men associate these “peaceful qualities” with women. Maybe they think women expect men to be like women. And I understand that men aren’t like women in every way. But there needs to be some way to bring the crime rate down. There needs to be some way to end the violence and the love of violence in the real world.
I do understand that it’s harder to discipline a young male than a young female. But I believe this is because of the influences in their lives. Fathers must show examples of self-control and responsibility. This will show a young male that he can’t just do what he wants and not take responsibility for it. He will want to imitate the disciplined behavior if he sees his father or other male figures acting in such a way.
If men were exposed to people who are less fortunate than they are, were encouraged to show a sense of compassion, and were taught to do good deeds for others, they would feel better, and it could help them to take less aggressive approaches. Scientists show that when we truly give to others, our brain rewards us with chemicals that make us feel good. This reduces stress, and produces more of a positive outlook on life.
Unfortunately, there are more social programs that protect women than there are programs that protect men, and men are least likely to seek out the programs that do exist for them.
Lack of Spirituality
Interestingly, more men lack the belief in a higher being. Many men have a hard time answering to someone greater than themselves, this can even translate to authority figures. Men often find religion too restrictive. They often can’t see the benefit of religion, neither do they feel they can live up to the expectations or requirements set by religions. Most may feel lied to.
But belief in something higher is not about being a part of a religion, but the realization that someone is in charge of your fate, and that someone can “save” you from your problems. It gives a person hope and helps them learn the power of letting go and putting burdens in the hands of someone else. While, many men may say this sounds like I’m asking them to believe in lies, fairy tales, and to be brainwashed, I simply am saying that men lack the ability to surrender, and have more of an ability to resist. Rather than allow themselves to be moved or shaped by someone else, allowing change to occur within, they usually refuse to accept advice or influence, and therefore, they become stubborn and stuck. They lack the ability to accept things as they are when they can’t surrender. They begin to lack contentment. They also become hopeless, believing that they only have one life to live and that there is nothing for them in the future, whether it’s true or not. Simply, they don’t care.
Ironically, their pride becomes stronger. They begin to feel more “right” and less able to accept their own “wrongs”. They become unapologetic for their actions, feeling that there is a thin line between “right and wrong”. Their morals become guided only by their own thinking, without awareness of others. Therefore, when they perceive someone being mean or threatening, they don’t take into account that it may simply be a perception, and not an intentional threat.
Schools Aren’t Safe
With all of these crazy individuals in and entering schools, many no longer see school as a safe haven. People are in fear of sending their children to school, and this shouldn’t be. School should be a place of learning, where children feel safe in an educational environment. Teachers have enough to deal with than having to worry about the safety of the children.
But these shootings do bring up one major concern and issue that even I have regarding schools: Is security tight enough?
In the schools I worked with, the person that usually let’s others in the building are secretaries…unarmed, unlicensed, and untrained in combat. The person who is in charge of locking these doors are the janitors. But the secretary usually can’t tell who’s a parent, sibling, auntie, or relative, and ends up letting anyone they see in the building.
There are no security guards or police in elementary schools, and there are no scanners before one enters the building. So basically there’s just no way of knowing what nut has entered a school building. It’s time for people to stop ignoring these issues. Schools need tighter security.
Another issue is that classrooms tend to be left wide open for people to just walk in, steal something, and use it as a weapon, as in the Danvars case. Particularly, boys are mischievous enough to want to pull these idiotic pranks. So teachers need to be aware that their classrooms are locked up at the end of the day, and that all of their utensils are put away. Though you can’t possibly manage every child that walks and breathes, you sure can put a tighter hold on what goes on in our schools by making sure everything is sealed.
Male Youth can be a threat to the school environment. If we don’t do something to change their behavior, they will serve as a danger to other students, as well as to themselves. The vast majority of homicide cases deal with young males, especially African Americans. Should we allow males to be taught in a learning environment where there’s too much to get into?
From my experience, young males tend to do better when they’re home schooled, where they aren’t influenced by others, where they can work at their own pace, and where competition isn’t as high. They also can receive the appropriate attention from their parents and the correct discipline to suit their needs. At home, they are less of a threat to school environments.
It has also been noted that boys do better in school when they are raised in traditional households. I find conservative households to be much stricter than liberal ones (I’m not talking about political parties here). From my experience, grandparents tend to raise the best boys. They make sure the children have their hair combed, shirts tucked in, oiled skin, well-bathed, well-fed, and well disciplined. Those children get spanked for using profanity, instead of the more freedom-loving parents, who allow their children to “express themselves”. Those children who are given more freedom tend to become belligerent, selfish, and rebellious, feeling defied more often and a sense of self-entitlement. In traditional homes, those boys more than likely have a spiritual background. They also give boys responsibilities at an early age. To add, they treat the girls and the boys similarly.
Single-parent homes with no fathers also play a role in a male’s performance. Mothers devote less time to their sons, and are more emotionally distant with them than their daughters. Therefore, this must contribute to the statistic that African American males are more than likely to commit homicide crimes than all the others because the great majority of single parent homes are among African American families.
Boys are now less likely to move on to University.
With parents who support educators, the teacher and parents are able to strike fear in the youth together, making sure he knows the consequences of his actions. Parents who are too defensive (or rather, protective) of their child’s behavior end up with the above three criminals mentioned in the beginning. Parents who attack teachers, feeling threatened that a teacher is “picking on” their child, or feeling that a teacher is “dealing with their child wrong”, or “gave their child a bad grade” tend to end up with children who commit crimes. This is actually most prevalent in the African American community, where parents are involved with their child’s school the least, but complain about the institution the most. Therefore, the number of homicide cases among young African American males isn’t shocking.
What’s sad is that Chism is now added to this number. It’s bad enough no one wants African Americans in their community, but with young men like Chism, this isn’t a racist issue. This is a danger issue. African Americans had better learn to live with others in a civil environment, or no one, not even their own people, will want to live with them. They will constantly lose businesses, constantly live in low-income areas, and constantly suffer from violent acts.
In conclusion, I urge people of America and the whole world to wake up, especially African Americans, and help our young boys who are being put in jail with no future ahead of them, and who are dying everyday as victims of crime. We want to pay attention to them and their needs. We want to be aware of the mental illnesses that are so prevalent among our young boys. Please, it’s what we should do so that our boys can flourish and prosper into fine adult men that we all can be proud of.