52% of voters (vs. 31%) say that boys are more at-risk than girls, which makes perfect sense when you consider that a) the readers here tend to be parents of boys and b) readers here tend to be extremely concerned about boys' welfare.
The scary thing is that the statistics back up our concerns. Consider:
- Teenage boys are 5 times more likely than girls to commit suicide
- Boys are 200% more likely to be diagnosed with learning disabilities
- Boys are turning away from higher education at an alarming rate. Today, they're 24% LESS likely to enter or graduate from college than in 1970.
- 71% of all juvenilles arrested are boys
- Boys are much more likely to use (and abuse) alcohol and drugs
That's the grim part of the picture. But I'm here to tell you that raising a boy doesn't have to be all doom and gloom. Our sons are wonderful human beings, full of possibility. The world may have a long way to go in understanding, recognizing and accepting male behavior (it IS normal for a 5-yr-old boy to be more interested in playing outside than learning to read, just as it's normal for a 5-yr-old boy to spend hours paging through books), but the good news is that we as parents can learn to enjoy our sons RIGHT NOW.
We don't have to wait for society to fully understand the differences between boys' brains and girls' brains and how that affects education. We don't need to completely unravel the association between testosterone, risk taking, aggression and violence. All we need is a willingness to strive for joy.
That means being open to joy, which necessarily means opening your mind. It means getting rid of any preconceived notions you have about what a boy "should" be like and looking at the boy (or boys) in front of you. It means appreciating their quirks and learning what makes them tick. It means helping them to find their joy, even as you learn to find yours.
I won't lie: raising boys is work. But it's also incredibly fun.