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The State Of America's Boys

Parents are worried about their sons. Educators are worried about male students, and public health professionals lament lifestyle choices that endanger young men’s lives. Whether about violence, educational achievement, unwise risk-taking, or ignoring COVID-related health mandates, there are real concerns about boys. The unprecedented reckoning sparked by #MeToo and new Title IX rules on campuses simply raises the stakes, adding new urgency to the question of how to raise boys who support the full rights and humanity of women. In the same way, the Black Lives Matter movement draws attention to the disproportionate challenges faced by boys of color and casts new light on racist and entitled attitudes embedded in traditional definitions
of masculinity.

At root, these modern social movements reveal a central question about boyhood as it has greeted generation after generation of young males: why hasn’t it been better at fostering boys’ well-being, virtue, and citizenship? Those who care for boys have been on their own to wonder how to help boys achieve their fullest potential as connected, caring, engaged, and productive men, dependable allies in the progressive arc of history. Fortunately, this progressive trend is catching up with boys, and the reinvention of boyhood based on rigorous developmental science is at hand.

This report was produced by Promundo, the Kering Foundation, and Plan International as part of the Global Boyhood Initiative. It seeks to provide an overview of the state of boys in the United States, looking at both the challenges facing them and the promise of their futures. The report discusses boyhood in an ecological context, examining the relationships, communities, and larger social norms that shape their lives. Each section concludes with key recommendations to support sons, alongside efforts to support girls, so they have a real shot at reaching their full human potential.