The Quiet Rage Inside Boys

We’ve heard it before: “He was quiet and kept to himself.”  Then we hear about an unthinkable crime committed by a young man who no one would ever suspect of such a heinous act. These tragic events leave us confused and searching for answers.

We ask ourselves, “What went wrong ?” What is triggering this violent reaction in boys and young men? Can it be prevented? The truth is we don’t always know what’s going on in the minds of boys. Many boys have been conditioned  for years to suppress their emotions and to hide their pain. From the time they are able to walk, stumble and fall, they are told not to cry.  When they feel any kind of distress, they also feel the burden of emotional suppression. They are discouraged from showing any signs of weakness, vulnerability, or fear.

Boys are shamed for showing any emotion that is not “manly”.  They are pushed them to “man up” but don’t give them the tools or resources to deal with whatever anger, resentment or pain that is troubling them. They are left to their own devices and ignore the signs that detect something may be wrong. We forget that for each tragedy, there is a generation of  boys that are so desensitized to pain and suffering, that they are emotionally detached their suffering and the suffering of others.  Before they know it, they’re on a path to self-destruction.

Because of our society’s stigma of mental health issues, boys often hide the fact that they are depressed. Parents may miss or overlook signs because their son knows how to “cover up” what’s really going on in his life.

It bothers me that we get so wrapped up in debating about gun control and violent video games that we overlook the greater need for quality mental health care, especially for males. We talk so much about what needs to be done, but we do very little.

There is no one solution to stopping these mass killings. There are too many factors to consider. From a parent’s perspective, we can start to communicate better with our sons to gain a better understanding of their emotional life. We can not assume that because they seem to be emotionally stable and have self-control that  everything is fine. As parents, we can not ignore masculine isolation and our son’s silent cries. We need to pay better attention to their emotional needs.

We need to have better mental health intervention and to create mental health awareness for boys. Let’s retire the archaic thinking that  “real men” are emotionally stoic. We can no longer wait to address the mental well-being of boys. We have to model empathy, help boys to sort through their feelings and most importantly give them an outlet  to express their fears and pain. Boys need to know that they can deal with their personal grievances without hurting themselves or others.


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