Today, young men are often described as being “in crisis.” During the past 50 years, at exactly the same time when women have made massive advancements, young men have been falling behind. This is true not because women’s success comes at young men’s expense, but because young men are facing new and very serious challenges. What are these challenges? And why does mentoring young men through programs such as DeMolay and in other ways point to a powerful solution? Let’s take a couple of minutes to explore this crucial topic.
Statistics Paint a Challenging Picture
If we review statistics and trends pertaining to young men in education, relationships, the workplace, etc. right now, a shadowy picture comes into focus. Today, the top 10 percent of America’s best students are 2/3 female; the bottom 10 percent are 2/3 male. Boys are far more likely to fail to graduate from high school. More than 60 percent are single. Nearly 75 percent of “deaths of despair”—suicides or overdoses—occur among men, many of them heartbreakingly young.
Seeds of Despair … Flowers of Hope
Why is this happening—and happening now? Though the causes are complex, many sociologists, writers, and political leaders identify a breakdown of the family and the resulting absence of positive male role models for young men as a key destructive force. A blog post by Pediatric Associates spotlighted the critical impact of having a positive role model for a young man versus not having one: “Boys will seek approval from their fathers from a very young age. As human beings, we grow up by imitating the behavior of those around us; that’s how we learn to function in the world. If a father is caring and treats people with respect, the young boy will grow up much the same. When a father is absent, young boys look to other male figures to set the ‘rules’ for how to behave and survive in the world.” It’s therefore critical—in a world where so many fathers are absent from young men’s lives—that these “other male figures” have a positive effect on a young man’s growth. That’s where mentoring young men—through formal organizations such as DeMolay Maine and in less structured settings—comes in.
An Impact That Lasts a Lifetime … or More
Put very simply, our young men don’t need more TikTok videos … or bad habits … or dead-end pathways set before them. They need a positive male mentor who can identify with their experience, be their friend, and provide an example to look up to. They need someone who will help them navigate through negative experiences and empower them for future challenges. They need someone who will help them build self-confidence and deepen their sense of purpose and ethical conduct in life.
Statistics from mentoring.org show that mentored young people are 90 percent more likely to become a mentor themselves. Given the serious new challenges they face, isn’t mentoring young men a great way to pass the torch and create a brighter future for our young brothers?
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