By Warren Farrell | January 05, 2013 | Marshfieldnewsherald.com
After Newtown, Conn., parents cried out, “What’s making our children kill?” But it is not our children who are killing. It is our sons. All but one of the 62 mass killings in the past 30 years was committed by boys or men.
We respond by blaming guns, our inattentiveness to mental health, violence in the media or video games, or family values. Yes, all are players, but our daughters are able to find the same guns in the same homes, are about as likely to be mentally ill, have the same family values and are exposed to the same violence in the media. Our daughters, however, do not kill. Why the difference?
Start with suicide. Each mass murder is also a suicide. Boys and girls at age 9 are almost equally likely to commit suicide; by age 14, boys are twice as likely; by 19, four times; by 24, more than five times. The more a boy absorbs the male role and male hormones, the more he commits suicide.
No manly model
For boys, the road to successful manhood has crumbled. In many boys’ journey from a fatherless family to an almost all-female staff elementary school such as Sandy Hook, there is no constructive male role model.
Adam Lanza is reported to have gone downhill when divorce separated him from his dad. Children of divorce without enough father contact are prone to have poor social skills; to struggle with the five D’s (depression, drugs, drinking, discipline and delinquency); be suicidal; be less able to concentrate; and to be aggressive but not assertive. Perhaps most important, these boys are less empathetic.
And just while their bodies are telling them that girls are the most important things in the world, these boys are locked into failure. Boys with a “failure to launch” are invisible to most girls. With poor social skills, the boys feel anger at their fear of being rejected and self-loathing at their inability to compete. They “end” this fear of rejection by typing “free video porn” into Google and working through the quarter-billion options. Online “success” increases the pain of real world failure.
Fragile fantasy success
So, too, with these boys’ relationships with video games. While girls average a healthy five hours a week on video games, boys average 13. The problem? The brain chemistry of video games stimulates feel-good dopamine that builds motivation to win in a fantasy while starving the parts of the brain focused on real-world motivation. He’ll win at Madden football, but participate in no sport.
It’s time we go beyond fighting over guns to raising our sons. With one executive order, President Obama can create a White House Council on Men and Boys to work with the Council on Women and Girls he formed in 2009. Why? No one part of government or the private sector has a handle on the solution.
A coordinated strategy is best developed at the White House level. The mere formation of such a council by the president alerts foundations, companies, families, teachers and therapists that our sons’ “failure to launch” needs to be on their agenda. And politically, an effort to go beyond the rote ideological disagreements of the two parties could help build the unity to actually do something instead of fight to a standstill in a closely divided country.
There are few things a culture does as important as raising children. We can’t continue to fail half of them.
Warren Farrell is author of Why Men Are the Way they Are. He is co-authoring a book with John Gray, titled Boys to Men.
I signed the petition: President Obama: Help PREVENT another mass shooting by forming a Men and Boys Council.