It's not an unmeetable challenge, Farrell says, and the commission's research bears that out.
Simple changes like offering single-sex classes in certain subjects already makes a difference in hundreds of classrooms. A Rutgers study documented that boys and girls handle stress differently; they can be taught gender-tailored approaches. Prevention programs can reduce costs and incarcerations. Parenting programs can model ways to engage boys and use their unique capabilities and energies, teach what's healthy or unhealthy at different developmental stages, help absent fathers reintegrate into children's lives. Excluding boys from being gentle lest they appear "soft" can change. Youths can be channeled to opportunities for training in growing employment fields. Communications skills can be enhanced.
The Midvale Boys and Girls Club is teaching boys to focus better by encouraging them to use not-traditionally-male tools like yoga.
"Statistics can overwhelm our compassion," says the commission report, but "violent teenagers were once baby boys and, at that point, were far more capable of accepting guidance and rejecting negative influence."
In other words: change is possible.
Before girls got a helping hand, the commissioners say, girls rowed the family boat only on the right side, raising children, and the boys only on the left, raising money. Girls have broader options now.
"If our daughters try to exercise their newfound ability to row from the left, and our sons also row only from the left, the boat goes in circles."
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