Healthy Boys Project

The Healthy Boys Project (HBP)  is a program designed to help create social environments at schools and in other childhood organizations that support and nurture the development of healthy boys (K – 6th grade).  

Developed in collaboration with Merge for Equality, HBP helps to develop the capacities of teachers and other staff to encourage the promotion of healthy boyhood; along with efforts to create an organizational setting that becomes an environment conducive to healthy boy development.

Key components include: 

1.    Intensive Promoting Healthy Boys Training, 

2.    Post-training coaching  and technical assistance to support the integration of the content,  

3.   Assessment of the school/organizational culture and norms along with a report of recommendations as to ways each school or organization can create a culture that is more conducive of promoting healthy boys.

Core Premises:  

  • Boys are inherently loving, caring and sensitive; 
  • Boys are exposed to harmful gender norms and stereotypes, starting at a young age; 
  • Boys benefit from unearned male privileges starting at a young age, and at the expense of girls, transgender and gender non-conforming children, leading to gender inequality in families, schools, and communities; 
  • Harmful forms of masculinity continue to foster social, cultural, academic, political, and economic under-achievement, disease and violence; 
  • We need to change the way we socialize boys in order to create a more safe, healthy and equitable future. 

Statement of Need

Men are in trouble.  Mounting evidence confirms that men of all ages struggle with higher rates of depression, addictions, violence (both perpetrating and being victimized by) and other issues than do women.  Evidence also clearly demonstrates men’s hesitance and unwillingness to access physical and mental health services proactively.  Men who are marginalized appear to suffer more and graver consequences.  The trouble that men and boys are experiencing can be summed up with the catch-phrase that is becoming increasingly popular – “toxic masculinity.”  

A significant part of the problem, and one this is currently rarely addressed, is the very ways that most boys and men are limited in how they are allowed and encouraged to express their humanity.  This limiting dynamic begins when boys are young (elementary school) and tends to intensify as they get older.  Boys are systemically 

  • Discouraged from expressing their full range of feelings,  
  • Encouraged to be self-sufficient and self-reliant (which undermines boy’s abilities to be vulnerable and seek help, assistance or support), 
  • Dissuaded from expressing gentle-ness or kindness, 
  • Inhibited from expression compassion (particularly towards girls). 

In addition, the vast majority of the images of masculinity that boys are presented with in these ages tend to reinforce a very narrow and un-healthy image of what it means to be a man. 

The pressure for boys to “show up” in particular ways comes not only from the social pressure of other boys, but also from the (often unintended) social pressure from adults, as well as from the policies and other factors that create a social environment.    Some of the common practices in how adults interact with boys both support these social norms of manhood to continue, and result in a privileging of “boyness” when compared with girlness in these environments.   

The ways that our boys learn about and begin to integrate toxic expressions of masculinity are nearly ever-present and constant.  Part of what is missing is a comprehensive effort that supports males to continue to express their humanity, and their masculinity, in ways that are much less constrained, restricted and toxic.  What is missing is structural support for boys and men to express a healthy masculinity(ies). 

What is needed is a comprehensive project to train and support staff who work with young boys on how they can promote healthy boys, and which creates environments in which boys exist that allow these healthy expressions of masculinity to emerge and be expressed. 

Fee Structure

Full Package

$5000 – 6500 (plus expenses)

Training

If you are interested in just the training, please contact me directly.  The training will be adapted specifically for your setting and goals, and can be offered as either a one-day or two-day format.

Resources

Boys Close Friendships Must Survive Masculine Expectations

Challenging male stereotypes and encouraging adolescents to show emotional vulnerability is a good foundation for manhood.

Gender Stereotypes are Destroying Girls and Killing Boys

A study appearing in the Journal of Adolescent Health found many norms around gender become entrenched in adolescence, with negative impacts extending into adulthood.

Unmasking Sexual Harassment 

Study reinforces the need to change the way we raise boys – today – to prevent sexual harassment tomorrow.

How Boys Teach Each Other to Be Boys

Taking cues from family and media, young boys teach their peers how to perform masculinity, to their detriment. Noah Berlatsky interviews Judy Chu, author of When Boys Become Boys (NYU Press, 2014)  about her research into the lives of young boys, the struggle between their need for closeness, and the pressures to abandon close