The Boy Code Elizabeth Schroeder, EdD, MSW Answer Executive Director 2011
This Webinar • Combination of research and professional experience working with adolescent boys • Will focus on adolescent BOYS… not specific populations of boys
To reach boys… ...we must first UNDERSTAND boys • How do they learn? • From where/whom do they get support? • What is the “boy code”?
How do they learn?(Good question…) The educational system is failing boys
Boys Are More Likely Than Girls To… • Have discipline/behavior problems • Be diagnosed with a learning disability or Attention Deficit Disorder • Be placed in special education • Drop out of school • Score lower grades; usually behind in reading/writing
Social Development of Boys “The BOY CODE” William Pollack, PhD
What Is the “Boy Code”? • The unwritten code of boy behavior • Are not suggestions, are strict rules about how they "must" behave • Genuine fear of what will happen if they break them.
What Does the Boy Code Dictate? • Tough • Distrusts adults • Doesn’t do anything “weak” or “sissy” • Muscular • Never cries • Plays sports • Doesn’t talk much • Doesn’t “act like a girl”
The “Boy Code” • Boy Code: Needs to look like he knows what he’s doing – “I know, ok?” – even if he doesn’t (starts early). • Girls: appearance important; Boys: appearances important (e.g., video games)
What’s the “normal” range for an adolescent boy? • Wants to be HIMSELF – different from parents, different from past • Eventually, different from peers • Looking to gain respect for what HE does and who HE is.
What’s the “normal” range for an adolescent boy? • May “one-up” people, especially peers • Roughhousing • Humiliate and be humiliated • Homophobia ALL = MALE BONDING
Everything in an adolescent boy’s life revolves around gender and masculinity
Boys “tell” us that… • NEED to be heterosexual. • NEED to have sex. • Want desperately to be good lovers. Consumed with giving partners orgasms. • Obsessed with penis size. • Concerned about statutory rape laws. • Experience love in extremes.
From Sexetc.org “Hi. I'm very confused. I don't know if I'm gay, bi, whatever. I need you to tell me some signs for straight and gay or even bi boys. Please. I need to know; and I need to know now.” -- 15-year-old boy
From Sexetc.org “I am considering suicide because I do not know what to do after my girlfriend left me. She is the only one I love and I cannot go on without her” -- 14-year-old boy
From Sexetc.org “Is there anything i can eat, drink or buy to enlarge my penis? Like that pump thing, does it really works? I hav difficulties since young like u know getting undress in front my friends... My first lov broke up wif me... Sometimes i just wish i wasn't born at all. Suicidal thoughts often cross my mind. i really need ur help...pls” – 17-year-old boy
So… To reach boys with our sexuality lessons (e.g., sexual initiation, healthy relationships, safer sex, etc.) We need to spend MORE time looking at and incorporating gender/masculinity w/sexuality
Some things to consider… • Separating boys and girls (pros and cons) – research on single-sex vs. co-ed schools • Spend MORE time with boys… bridge the gender gap • READ… get to know the RESEARCH, and adapt your existing activities/programs
Some more things to consider… • Gender of teacher: less important than respect • Don’t avoid emotions; are taking your lead • PERSONALIZE but maintain boundaries
How do we break the “boy code”? We can’t. But we can make it less limiting.
How do we break the “boy code”? We can’t. But we can help boys to understand what it is and choose for themselves the parts they do and don’t accept.
For More Information/Reading • “Real Boys” and “Real Boys’ Voices” by William Pollack, PhD • “Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys” – Dan Kindlon, PhD and Michael Thompson, PhD • “Speaking of Boys,” by Michael Thompson, PhD
National Sexuality Education Training Initiative: In-person/Online National sex ed resources http://answer.rutgers.edu/ National Teen-to-Teen Sexuality Education Initiative www.sexetc.org
ACT for Youth Center of Excellence • Youth development and adolescent sexual health resources:www.actforyouth.net • Youth network site—sexual health, leadership, rights, and more for youth:www.nysyouth.net Was this presentation useful? Please give us your feedback: http://www.zoomerang.com/Survey/WEB22AEZWMYJH3