Social Development Mens Forum, department executive management and Scouts South Africa leadership. Photo by Kelebogile Xaba

By Staff Reporters

May 16 is International Day of the Boy Child. It was founded in 2018 by Dr Jerome Teelucksingh, a university lecturer from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. It focuses on boys, their well-being and their needs to feel happy, healthy and valued within the family and the community. In a founding proposal letter to government leaders and NGOs, Teelucksingh said: “On the media, there are regular incidents in which young, misguided boys and teenagers are involved in crime and violence. 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. “There is an urgent need to focus on the home and school in order to save the boy child.”
He says boys are socialised to equate strength and masculinity with suppressing their natural and spontaneous reaction to pain, disappointment and rejection – not asking for help and shunning vulnerability. In actuality, vulnerability is about strength – it is about standing in front of another soul spiritually, psychologically and emotionally naked. Many of these children are suicidal, slowly descending into the deep dark abyss of depression and consumed by low self-esteem and repressed emotions.
“Of the 7.6 billion people in the world, about 4 billion are males and over 1 billion are boys under the age of 15. Boys are more than a mere extension of ourselves. These children represent our heritage and serve as one of the links to the past and the present that intersects with the future of our families, our communities, and our world,” the World Boy Child Day said in a statement. The organisation says boys are born with irrepressible enthusiasm, insatiable curiosity, a natural and spontaneous reaction to disappointment, rejection, failure and spiritual, physical psychological and emotional pain and a pristine view of the world. They are fragile and vulnerable. Somewhere along the journey from boyhood to manhood, boys are socialised not to express the natural and spontaneous reactions to spiritual, physical, emotional and psychological pain, disappointment and rejection. “The boy child of the 21st century is faced with tremendous challenges which, unless properly guarded, the society is losing him,” said John Koskey. The boy child has been neglected. This leaves him irrelevant and in a dilemma. The Gauteng Department of Social Development has stepped up to change this situation. In partnership with Scouts South Africa (SSA), it launched the provincial Boy Child Project at the Arrow Park in Benoni on Sunday, 15 May.
This formed part its World Boy Child Day celebrations. About 200 young boys attended the launch and were treated to lots of fun and skills training workshops. Among others, boys were thought basic first aid, dealing with wildlife, survival skills and many other life skills. The department said this initiative is aimed at developing young boys to achieve their full potential as individuals and responsible citizens. This is in line with its Men and Boys Programmes that focus on investing in boys’ and men’s empowerment.
The department uses these programmes as part of its efforts to combat the rampant scourge of gender-based violence. Social Development MEC Morakane Mosupye, a former Girl Scout, was ecstatic with the partnership with Scouts South Africa. She said scouts were ideal partners because of their proven track record. “Scouts have programmes that instil discipline in young boys, who ultimately become agents of change in society. This is an ideal platform for the department’s Boy Child Programme to realise its mission and vision. “This partnership will benefit young boys across the province as it will provide mentorship for boy children on different issues such as behavioural change, emotional intelligence and spiritual upliftment. “It will also ensure that there are comprehensive and sustainable programmes that respond to challenges that are faced by boy children through empowerment and mentorship. We wish to have at least 5000 boys as part of this programme in the next five years,” Mosupye said.
Research and media reports indicate that, left to their own devices, many boys drop out of school, engage in violent behaviour and unsafe sex, or practice other risky behaviours because this is what they believe they have to do to be regarded as “real men” by their friends and communities. Boys find it difficult to speak out against sexual abuse and exploitation because of stereotypical definitions of masculinity and deep-rooted homophobia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *