Bombarded by daily headlines that scream the bad news about school shootings, youth suicides, bullies, and teen gangs, both the man and woman on the street and the professionals in medical, social, and educational fields ask: what's going on here, and what can be done about if? Child psychologists note that boy babies are responsive and open to the world, yet within a few years teachers complain that boys are passive and hide their emotions.
How do boys become men? How do we talk to them and help them on their way? Noting that peers, parents, and the media encourage male toughness and aggression, leading to an early "boy code" in which boys are discouraged from enjoying intimacy or an inner life, the interviewees in filmmaker Tom Weidlinger's Boys Will Be Men, which include authors William Pollack (Real Boys) and Michael Thompson (co-author of Raising Cain), suggest that as time passes, the code hardens into a "culture of cruelty, where differences are despised and bullying is tolerated.
Presenting a pair of intervention programs for consideration, the film looks at: 1) a three week course in wilderness survival, where "out of control" youths are coaxed to care for themselves and others, in the hopes that participants will learn self-esteem and embrace mutual trust, and 2) a three day workshop in which a counselor invokes mythology, special occasions, and ceremonies to prod boys to express themselves through poetry. While some of the ideas presented here seem a bit too easy and neat, the program should still prove to be a valuable resource overall for teachers and youth counselors.