By Caitlin Malik
June 20, 2011
The latest expert poll has come out damning men’s treatment of women across the globe. Statistics, horror stories and pleas for action all focus on the female in the picture, with little more than a ‘men must stop doing this’ dictate directed at the males in the picture. Simplistic, ineffective.
Violence is a male issue. That males are more likely than females to perpetrate violence is a well-documented fact. What is far less noted is that males are also more likely to be the victims of violence. While women and children are most at risk in the home, males are more at risk in the workplace and in public. Males are more likely to experience physical bullying at school; work in a job that maims and kills; get involved in fights or be shot on the street; be in a mosque when it goes up in flames. And yet, how often do you hear this? Take the reporting of deaths in blasts in Pakistan — “12 people killed in blast, including 2 women and a child”. Can I assume then that nine men died? And why not say so?
Violence begets violence. On the whole, we leave our males to deal with violence from a young age with little support or acknowledgment of that burden, relying almost entirely on the quality of parenting. Some parents should never have become so, and some parents lack the means, but not the intention, to provide adequately. Whatever the cause, a social safety net is required.
I’d be the first to argue (non-expertly) that the male drive to dominate has pushed the human species out of the trees, onto our feet and with BlackBerry in some of our hands. It has also been responsible for the worst atrocities imaginable. As is the way with all powerful tools, how it is used will determine whether the outcome is beneficial or not. And, as anyone who has picked up a chainsaw can testify, the more you know about a tool, the better.
So what do we know about the development of males?
We know that males are more sensitive than females. Before the men start jumping, I am talking neurologically. From a young age, the male brain shows less resilience to the effects of deprivation and less ‘catch-up’ in response to rehabilitative measures than the female brain. Overall, males are more likely to suffer a mental illness — 10 times more likely for psychopath. Dare I argue that males require more attention than females, not less? Recognition of symptoms and early intervention are proven methods in positively redirecting the future of a deprived child.
By age five, a child has generally grown out of indirect violent behaviour. That is, a child might push and shove to gain a toy or privilege, but unprovoked violence or aggressive reactions are unusual and suggest a problem. However, schools, particularly in Pakistan, tend to focus on treating and protecting victims of violence and punishing the perpetrator. The former is essential, the latter is detrimental. A child displaying violent behaviour is displaying what he has been exposed to — it’s a clear warning bell.
Teachers are in a prime position to notice a struggling child and to provide the appropriate support. While training and development of Pakistani teachers’ skills in this aspect would be ideal, the internet offers much useful advice for teachers who want to clarify their understanding.
Teachers and schools are not the only options for support. Males are, from a young age, much more energetic than females. They require physical space and exercise otherwise they will redirect their energy. Clubs/organisations need to offer their attractions beyond the profitable areas; businesses need to include trainings and mentor programmes in their corporate responsibility plans and the government needs to set up technical education for young, unskilled males.
The last option in the mission to save males from a life of violence is you. Studies have shown that children suffering neglect and/or abuse show a much higher level of resilience if they have at least one person in their life that is stable and supportive. Children want to be happy and appreciated; they will take any opportunity offered — positive or negative. So, have you got one afternoon/evening a week to collect the boys of the ‘hood for a game/a chat/a positive influence?
The writer is an Australian national married to a Pakistani and teaches high school English in Lahore
Source: The Express Tribune, Lahore