Boys and their choices

Disturbing Boy Behaviour – Steve Biddulph & Maggie Dent

I am hopeful that many of you have already seen this article which is across most social media forums. I know more highly educated and respected people such as Maggie Dent and Steve Biddulph have already commented on this. However, I felt it was important to address the issue with the work that I do in schools and in particular with an all boys camp coming up this weekend.


While I am horrified by the nature and malice of this story, I am unfortunately not surprised. What is scary is that I have two young girls approaching this age and a young boy just a few years away also. I know this will be a conversation over the dinner table and probably not just once over the next ten years!!!


Why am I not surprised? Well in my experiences, which is a small sample size in Western Australia, I have noticed a distinct increase in pack like behavior in the young men I teach and work with. This is a generalisation, but in my exchanges with boys in pack situations there has been a deterioration in boys behaviour.


The attitude of ‘doing things to impress your mates’ hasn’t really changed over time but the risk level of the behavior and the direct challenge to authority has. In schools I have seen groups of 6-8 male students stand around teachers who are addressing inappropriate behaviours and challenge them, even when told to disperse. In a class the other day I witnessed a boy stand up and challenge a teacher across the room who was addressing his friends inappropriate class room behaviour, openly showing no respect for authority.


There seems to be a shift in the boys interpretation of what is respectful and appropriate behavior. This same attitude also exists with some of the good kids unfortunately. In my leadership business I come across many good young men. When I talk about their personal goals and aspirations in leadership the majority of the time they put these on hold for two reasons. Firstly, being a leader is seen as sucking up to the authority of the school, this goes against the mates mentality, the us vs them type thing. Secondly, they don’t want the responsibility of having to do the right thing all the time, even they know this is important.


I recall a conversation with one boy about his potential to be Head Boy. The staff at the school had pointed me in his direction at the camp and I had watched him work through the activities set. He could have made a difference in the school and led. His response “Nah, too much hard work, plus I couldn’t then go out with my mates on the weekend cause when I do the wrong thing I will get into trouble?”. Some might say well he wasn’t right for Head Boy, he hasn’t got his head on right. You should have watched him then spend the next 30mins with the special education boy walking him through the next team building activity. He had the values, he know right from wrong, he had the skills, he just didn’t want to take the risk to challenge the norms his mates had placed on him.


So yeah I am not surprised by this news. Yes I am disgusted and shattered as an educator. I am scared as a parent of young kids, especially my girls. But I am hopeful that we can make some changes and get these young men to accept this is not appropriate. If boys are going to hunt in packs lets at least get the attitude right. There are examples out there, hopefully this video gives you some hope.

Boys doing the right thing – Olivet High School.