WORLD DAY OF THE BOY CHILD
Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh
The two observances, International Men’s Day (19 November) and Universal Children’s Day (20 November) are closely linked. Firstly, International Men’s Day focuses on the role of men in the family, in the wider society, and at the national level. Also, it highlights the awesome responsibility of men to maintain the highest standards in morality and integrity in personal and public life. Let us be mindful of the place of men in today’s world.
You may not fully agree with James Brown, an Afro-American singer and songwriter (dubbed the “Godfather of Soul”) who popularized a song that was co-written by a woman –Betty Jean Newsome in 1966. The song is entitled ‘It’s a Man’s World’ (also known as ‘It’s A Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World’) and the chorus echoes today (https://www.youtube.com/watch ?v=gb-B3lsgEfA):
This is a man’s world
This is a man’s world
But it wouldn’t be nothing
Nothing without a woman or a girl
Indeed, the closing lines of this song are also very relevant today for men and women:
Oh how, how man needs a woman
I sympathize with the man that don’t have a woman
He’s lost in the wilderness
He’s lost in bitterness
He’s lost in loneliness
Yes, this is a man’s world, but as Brown’s song reminds us, without a woman or a girl man is lost in the wilderness and in bitterness. Due to man’s significant place in world affairs, it still seem to be ‘a man’s world’.
In ancient and modern cultures, Man has held and holds the world’s destiny. It cannot be denied that Man is the war-maker and peace maker. Man determines the course of history. In the past and today, most of the world’s leaders and lawmakers are men. This is not a recent phenomenon but part of the development of our society that reflects patriarchy. The irony of the situation is that some persons believe that because patriarchy exists, or that men are leaders and decision makers, then boys are fine and protected. This is a false notion. In a male-dominated society, there are many boys and teenagers who are marginalized, alienated and left behind. That’s why we have to do something for our boys before it is too late.
Universal Children’s Day is a very important celebration to encourage our boys and girls but there is an urgent need to prepare the boy child who will share a role as tomorrow’s mover and shaker in society. In the Caribbean, regular examination results from secondary and tertiary institutions indicate a steady decline in academic performance among boys. This is linked to feelings of inadequacy that have become embedded in the psyche of our boys. Yes, the inferiority complex and underachievement prevalent among our boys are neither urban legends nor myths. They are a reality!
Other statistics paint a morbid and frightening picture. On the media, there are regular incidents in which young, misguided boys and teenagers are involved in crime and violence. It is one of the Caribbean’s most challenging social problems. Not surprisingly, this is also a problem plaguing other nations across the globe.
There is little room for debate when I write, “We need to save the Boy Child.”
We need to protect the boy child from the harmful influences of society. There is an urgent need to focus on the home and school in order to save the boy child. The boy child lives in a turbulent social environment that makes him vulnerable to a multitude of negative forces. If a boy child is neglected or fed a diet of hate and violence it is obvious he will develop into a teenager who is misguided and confused. And the next crucial transition into manhood will be even more difficult.
Protecting the girl child is equally important. Some of us would be aware that since 2012, the United Nations marks 11 October as the “International Day of the Girl Child“. The obvious question is – why have we not dedicated a day that focuses on the Boy Child? We must not allow the continued imbalance of the gender scale. We cannot ignore that without a focus on both the boy child and the girl child, gender equality is not a reality.
Too many of our boys are invisible and forgotten. Each boy is important and in this race of life, nobody should be left behind. It is within this context that the first observance of “International Day of the Boy Child”, henceforth known as “International Boy’s Day” will be observed on 16 May 2018.