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No boy will be left behind By J. Teelucksingh

What are little boys made of?

                                                What are little boys made of?

                                                 Frogs and snails

And puppy-dogs’ tails

That’s what little boys are made of

                                                What are little girls made of?

                                                What are little girls made of?

                                                Sugar and spice

And all that’s nice,

That’s what little girls are made of.

Some of you might remember this children’s song. It seems simple and harmless. But it sends a message that boys and girls are markedly different.  We do not need reminders that good boys are fast becoming an endangered species. Sometimes the media and others have glamorized the boys and young men who are involved in crime and illegal activities. Once these images and labels are accepted as indicators of masculinity, the negative results are obvious.

In April 2018, I did a simple experiment. For two days, I observed 8 boys and 8 girls in two private and public nursery (kindergarten) schools in Trinidad. Boys and girls (between 3 and 4 years old) were given dolls, pink and blue Play-Doh, toy soldiers and cars. The children did not differentiate between toys for girls and boys. Girls played with cars and soldiers. Some of the teachers gave dolls and plastic kitchenware to the girls and the boys received the cars and soldiers. And, even then some of the boys were willing to share their toys with their female classmates who accepted the cars and soldiers. Not surprisingly girls were also willing to play with blue toys and building blocks. And boys had no problems playing with pink building blocks. The teachers at the nursery/kindergarten displayed displeasure that the boys were playing with pink toys or pink Play-Doh. At home, the message would have been reinforced as some of these children would have been told that boys should play with toy guns, soldiers and cars whilst girls play with dolls, kitchen sets or toy cosmetics. 

Additionally, I realized that some of the boys and seemed reluctant to leave their parents and stay in the nursery. It seems that sometimes an unhealthy atmosphere at home will make boys and girls more willing to be in a school which provides that safe zone, that elusive peace space. If parents argue and quarrel at home or abuse a child, it is only natural that a child will feel more inclined to be at school. Likewise, if the child is being verbally abused or bullied in school, there would be an attachment to home and reluctance to attend school. The urgent question to be addressed- could we ensure both school and home are safe zones and peace spaces?

The recipe to create mature, diligent, trustworthy boys in our world is a difficult one. The reason being is that there is considerable inequality and our boys are not all on the same playing field. The differences in culture, literacy, religion and geographical location have all posed problems for moving boys to a higher level in society. However, there are similar ingredients in that elusive recipe which will help our boys. These include:

  1. Ensuring our boys live peaceful and stable surroundings.
  2. Promotion of a safe environment to encourage creativity and thinking.
  3. Developing channels of communication to share problems and discuss ideas
  4. Deciding on future careers, choices of companions and friends.
  5. Creating programs to rescue boys who are incarcerated.

It is difficult to disagree when I write that many of our boys are misunderstood and the adolescent journey is a nightmare. We need to ensure that our boys can envision a society where they are treated equally. We need to work with our boys to let them fulfil their dreams and goals. We cannot believe that hugging and displaying affection will make our boys soft or effeminate. If we do not embrace our boys, then the wrong persons will embrace them and then it will be too late. Do we want our boys finding role models among criminal gangs? Certainly not.

Let us promise to move forward with all our boys. No boy will be left behind. The normal, abnormal, those incarcerated, those free, the slow learners and the intelligent will share this world and be able to live in happiness and peace.

2 Replies to “No boy will be left behind By J. Teelucksingh”

  1. This is so.apt, that’s the name for my Academy. Noboyleftbehind. It’s important to create a balance in society. Our sons need to be given attention and we need to allow them display their emotions

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