You may be hearing some anti-girl grumblings around your daughter’s school or in your community, prompted by recent media accounts charging that it’s boys, not girls, who are the new “second sex.” Boys, some critics say, are overshadowed by super-achieving female peers, who ace them out in grades, honors, and ambitions.
Headlines blame “special” treatment for girls, including a USA Today editorial which read, “Girls get extra school help while boys get Ritalin,” and a Business Week cover last spring in which a huge, smug girl was shown towering over a cowed boy which warned of future repercussions such as young men who, spurned by overeducated potential wives, end up moving back in with Mama.
The thing is, along with some hyperbolic reporting, they’ve got a point. Many boys are clearly losing out in school and beyond (and many reports fail to note that more often these are low-income and minority males, not across the board boys).
Boys are likelier than girls to be placed in special education classes, issued Ritalin and other psychotropic drugs, and commit suicide. Girls now outnumber boys in honors courses as well as in college and graduate school graduation rates.
But an informed look at the situation makes clear that the source of boys’ problems is certainly not girls. Instead, boys’ problems, say experts, are largely a result of trends such as increased standardized testing, too-early academics, and reliance on behavior-modifying drugs in schools; a continued emphasis on sports over academics; cultural attitudes that belittle bookish boys; and economic decisions that have shrunk domestic blue-collar jobs.
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