Ending Male-Dominated Youth Violence In Abbotsford Begins With Challenging Gender Roles
By Meghann Coughlan. There is a lot of discussion lately about youth violence in Abbotsford. With the tragic shooting of a young man last night, many people are wondering how we can all make this stop. I’ve seen suggestions of committees, more police, and stricter sentencing laws for young offenders. In my opinion, the solution can be found in gender roles.
In a 2006 report, Statistics Canada reported that 84 youth were implicated in homicides with a staggering 86% of those young people being male. To those who might argue that from an evolutionary stand point, males are more prone to violence due to their traditional roles as hunters, Stats Can also reported that in the 10 years prior to the publication of this report, youth homicide has increased 41%. The reality is that our children, and at a greater rate – our boys, are becoming increasingly violent.
As much as we’d like to think we’re becoming a more ‘evolved’ society, the fact remains that prescribed gender roles are still alive and well. As a society, we’ve feminized virtues such as compassion and kindness and discouraged our boys from expressing emotion. As positive as Anti-Bullying Day is, it’s heartbreaking that we need a day devoted to encouraging boys to wear pink to deter future violent acts against those who may choose to wear it on a daily basis. Sports stars, convicted of rape and assault, retain their position and all of the fame, wealth and hero worship that goes along with it.
How often are little boys told to “man up” and “stop crying.” In adult relationships between men, how often do they encourage each other to express their fears, worries and sadness? Our advertising promotes physically strong, aggressive men and diminishes women to half-naked accessories possessing worth only equal to that which men see in her.
If we want to eliminate male violence, we need to eliminate ridiculous gender roles. We need to teach our boys that being a man isn’t being aggressive, violent or unemotional. What they need to know is that they define what being a man will look like on their own terms.
I strongly encourage the Abbotsford School District and Trustees to use your position to assist in challenging limiting gender roles within SD34. Please take a few moments to watch the trailer for The Mask You Live In – and exploration in American Masculinity and Miss Representation – which explores how women are represented in the media.
Miss Representation is already being utilised by School District 8 and is being distributed to students of Self Design. Please consider making it available to students in our district and make the same considerations with The Mask You Live In when it is realised in 2015.
Ending youth violence is up to us. It is imperative that we take every possible to action to ensure that we are doing right by our children. You’re all in the position to make some really positive changes in the lives of our children. I truly hope you consider both my words and the information presented in the above links.