I’ve spent years trying to understand the mental health crisis among teenage girls. But both sexes are suffering.
This isn’t rocket science. Boys are not well because our entire society demonizes masculinity as toxic. More grow up in a fatherless home than ever before.
Jordan Peterson has been sounding the alarm bells on this for many years. Weak men create hard times, which also hurts women. Women are hard wired to marry up, but 1 in 3 college graduates will not be able to because they outnumber men 3:2 on campus.
Now boys are being socially and chemically transitioned by misguided parents, doctors, and teachers. More are destroying women in sports and invading female spaces. Here are a few prominent examples: https://yuribezmenov.substack.com/p/how-to-save-womens-sports-riley-gaines
An additional factor affecting boys is explicit and implicit anti-male bias in hiring and education. For example, IBM just had an internship that was for anyone expect "white and Asian men". People focused on the racial component, but there's the gender component there too.
The company I worked for was a bit less explicit, but they spent a *lot* of their recruiting budget trying to get more women in tech. The opposite is almost never the case -- eg, there's far more female graduates than male in medicine now, yet how many medical schools or hospitals are focused on finding more men to achieve gender balance?
About 60% of college students are women. And in many cities, women under 30 earn more than men. We are moving rapidly from a patriarchy to a matriarchy. Now you can argue that's a good thing or a bad thing for society at large, the economy, etc. You can make your arguments the world *should* be a matriarchy, and that the time when the male virtues of physical strength, hunting, survival, and combat are no longer necessary in the modern world.
But it means that young men are actively discriminated against just for being born with a penis after the year 2000. So it's no wonder a lot will want to just retreat from the world in one way or another. If the constant messaging is that your natural instincts are "toxic," and the internship/school you want to apply for won't let you in because of how you were born... why not just spend your life getting high and playing video games? Especially if you have a bit of money inherited from boomer parents, what's the point in even trying? In other words, if the world hates you for being born, then why bother with the world?
A factor not mentioned was the removal of vocational training from schools, the incessant condescension towards the skilled trades by many of those with college degrees, and the depression of wages in the trades due to illegal immigration. Mike Rowe and Matthew Crawford have both done much to highlight this problem that primarily affects males.
The crisis among boys is hardly new news. Christina Hoff Summers sounded the alarm two decades ago in her book The War Against Boys. Jordan Peterson has been sounding the alarm. Men of all skin tones, especially those who are masculine, have been in the crosshairs for decades, so of course they are pessimistic. And our society is grave danger because of it.
Boy's problems should be sorted out in the playground. By the third grade everyone knows their place in the pecking order. The girls in their turn already start to know who they like. It was always thus until the toxic leftists and the crazed feminists they engender were permitted to take over.
If you have children keep them out of the leftist feminization/indoctrination compounds cleverly disguised as public schools.
A final note is if you take your boy fishing and hunting you'll never need to hunt for your son.
Eschew leftism and it's deadly obfuscation.
Glad that someone other than mothers of boys are finally noticing that something is wrong. I wrote about this issue over 20 years ago in my mommy blog. Meanwhile, Christina Sommers of AEI had sounded the alarm bells at that very time and no one in education or the sciences listened.
Now I have adult sons with multiple masters degrees in the right fields (the ones that the experts told them were part of the future-STEM, digital media) who can't even get job interviews. Deciding that maybe if they segue into something else they will be able to finally launch into the adulthood that is being denied to them. (You can't have a future working for minimum wage at McDonalds, or cleaning up other people's crap, no matter what anyone in Bidenland tells you how service jobs are great.) They are also not alone in this world where their options seem so limited.
You want to know why marriage and childbirth is down-this is why. If young men can't financially take care of themselves, how are they going to be a helpmate to anyone?
We raised our sons to be men. Real men -to honor and respect their family, nation and obligations. They were raised with the belief that doing all the right things, doing well in school and working hard, will produce benefits. Someday that is going to be respected once again in this country even for males.
Another huge factor is the drop-off in faith and worship among youth. Harvard epidemiologists VanderWeele, Li , and Kawachi estimated that nearly 40% of the increase in suicide (and by extension mental illness) stems from the decline in religious service attendance.
Thank you for the article, Jonathan. I wish more people would read this and share it with friends that have boys. I myself have two girls but I have recognized for years, long before I had kids, that the world, in the US at least, created groups, scholarships, opportunities, etc. specifically for girls with nothing directed towards boys. I am not at all surprised by your findings or those making similar determinations. I have already started to the the link to your article and plan on diving deeper into this topic. I am even working towards my psych degree (later in life) to be one of those seemingly rare creatures, a male therapist to work with police and combat vets. However it would seem, that men in general are looking for male therapists.
While the article is interesting (I have a 14 year old boy), I’m struck by the fact that someone reviewed data, consulted another expert and actually changed his mind on an important topic. A rare and refreshing thing these days. Kudos Mr Haidt.
Boys and girls are not okay because their families are not okay. Their families are not okay because of divorce culture. Any study that isn’t addressing the root causes of child trauma (fatherlessness) is not about helping children. It’s about propping up adult autonomy over against children’s rights.
One thing I learned about boys after marrying my husband is the effect of pornography on their psyche. My husband feels the he was exposed far too early and found it traumatizing. He credits the military and his deployment for breaking his addiction. He convinced me that if we give smartphones or laptops to our boys they will fall victim to these major corporations that push the material. It predatory and perverted that we do not demand organizations like mindgeek verify that children are not accessing adult content.
It doesn't help that teachers are heavily over represented by woman and that teachers lean left which from the 1970s onward has meant the people boys are led by spend an inordinate amount of time demeaning, condescending and ridiculing normal male behavior. Boys grow up being told at the same time, woman and men are equal but you mow the lawn, don't hit girls even if they hit you because you're stronger, you sign up for the draft to sacrifice your life to protect woman, you protect the woman in the family, you are responsible and she is not because you are a man and she is a woman, you open the doors for them, you respect their emotions, you stop being so emotional yourself, boys don't cry, boys keep a stiff upper lip, on and on and on but remember woman and men, boys and girls are 100% equal! More than that, we have to prioritize girls because of 'ma patriarchy... m' 'kay...
I tell ya' it's a f* racket!
Part of it too is that teenage boys are being shepherded onto a social media that is just as addictive but not nearly as rewarding for them as it is for girls. The result is that boys are spending similar amounts of time on TikTok, but getting far less value from it. Now, instead of playing video games themselves, they're watching videos of other people playing them. Soon, they'll take another step outside of reality and, as a a meta-version of themselves, watch videos of other meta versions of other people playing video games. It's hard to imagine how the death-march toward this meaningless void ends. Or, maybe it's easy. Take your kid's phone tell them to kick around a soccer ball. The problem is that electronic devices require far less behavioral management (also known as parenting and spending quality time with your kids) from adults. The same is true in schools for teachers. Society is taking the easy way out, and the kids are suffering because of it.
Another excellent analysis of the spiraling unhappiness of America’s youth. The causes seem readily apparent. What’s puzzling is that, beyond articles describing the situation, there have been no actions to address the drivers of the problem - social media and video games, bias against males, outsourcing our industries, education becoming indoctrination. America’s future is its young people and it is being methodically destroyed while we talk about the First Amendment. The real question is when are we going to stop being observers and address these root causes. The first step is to identify who benefits from this. Any ideas?
Steve Jobs thought he was giving the world a tool for a quantum leap in human productivity and creative agency. He did. But the net negative impact of the smart phone and its evil spawn, social media, is incontrovertibly born out in the numbers. I see these downcast, slouching young men today who look like they want to disappear. It’s very sad. I would love to put Job’s genie back in the bottle.
For those reading, I thought you might like to know the following.
For every 100 girls who die of suicide:
170 boys 10-14 die of suicide
330 boys 15-19 die of suicide
461 boys 20-24 die of suicide
425 boys 25-29 die of suicide
Total Deaths 2018-2022: Male 189,213 (79%); Female 50,301
For every 100 girls who die of an overdose
115 boys 10-14 years old die of an overdose
228 boys 15-19 die of an overdose
252 boys 20-24 die of an overdose
272 boys 25-29 die of an overdose
Total Deaths: Male 284,806 (71%); Female 118,084
Jonathan, Thanks for the great observations and concern for our nation's sons. They truly are struggling, as are our girls. When it comes to understanding the despair associated with the self reporting of depression and pessimism, girls are more likely to express their despair. Boys are far more likely to actualize their depression and pessimism. And, I would argue that it has more to do with the lack of a cultural recognition of the importance of the masculine and less to do with an ability to express feelings. People who feel comfortable and safe are more likely to express themselves and regulate their emotions. The pessimism is the first part and acting out the pessimism is the second part.
In education: Go to any state in the country, and you will see that boys score lower than girls in reading. And this cuts across racial lines as well.
And, from 2016 to 2020, 2.85 million more women than men graduated from college (https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d18/tables/dt18_318.10.asp). These are staggering numbers.