Undersocialized Boys: The Hidden American Problem


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Studies show that experiences in school can affect the rest of your life. Image by jdurham.

In the shadows of every American community lurks the hidden phenomenon known as the undersocialized boy. For the purpose of this article, we will define the undersocialized boy as an American boy or young man between the ages of 12 through 21 who lacks motivation and age-appropriate developmental assets to transition into adulthood.

He is mostly likely to delay or fail to achieve life goals such as attaining his high school diploma or a college degree, gaining stable employment and engaging in stable long-term relationships/marriage.

Undersocialized: Boys Dropping Out of Life

According to  The Boys Initiative (TBI), boys are dropping out of life. TBI tells us that by age 12, boys are twice as likely as girls to repeat at least one grade. Boys are also twice as likely to be suspended from schools, and three times as likely to be expelled, and they make up the majority of permanent high-school dropouts.
Once in college, boys are more likely to withdraw from or leave school without completing their degree, and are approximately three times as likely to be diagnosed with ADD or ADHD as girls.

Richard Whitemire states that K-12 schools are failing boys, and that those who do make it through are either unprepared for or unmotivated to do college-level work.  Whitemire also links the devaluation of the high school diploma to the loss of manufacturing jobs across America.  In short, our boys are in trouble, and it is important that our society researches the causes and solutions to this problem.

Undersocialization and Depression: Causes

The social factors that cause this social problem are numerous as well as complex. The mass media has also contributed to this social problem by portraying the American male as the “lazy, confused couchpotato” in many television shows and movies. It has become normal for young boys and men to escape reality and responsibilities instead of achieving educational attainments, stable employment and marriage.

Boys Hate School

There are many solutions that educators, parents, caregivers, community leaders and government officials can adopt to save our American boys. Based on the research of Leonard Sax, schools can adapt different formats for learning to accommodate male students because in the classroom – gender matters. In his article, “The Boy Problem: Many Boys Think School is Stupid and Reading Stinks,” Sax explains that some schools have adopted all-boys classes to let boys wiggle, be loud, and think while they walk around.

Resocialize Your Young Men; Enable Maturity

Parents and caregivers can also resocialize their sons by increasing expectations for behavior and accomplishments. For example, require teenage boys to hold at least one part-time job while in school or after graduation. If the large goals seem too large, set small short-term goals for boys for limited amounts of time (three goals or less in three months). Smaller goals help them achieve, and success breeds confidence.

Increase your son’s responsibilities in the home and community by assigning chores, making appointments, instituting a daily schedule, encouraging his participation in extracurricular activities, and allowing him to earn an allowance. Don’t forget to support his accomplishments with positive rewards, and provide consistent consequences for negative behaviors.

Finally, community leaders and government officials can increase the number of mentorship programs, and expand their vocational training programs to include middle school students. Schools must consider recruiting more male teachers. If we work together as a society, we can create a path to maturity for our nation’s youth.


Bailey, S. M. and Whitemire, R. Gender Gap: Are boys being shortchanged in K-12 schooling? (2010). Education Next. Accessed October 20, 2013.

Roberts, Fiona. America’s Lost Boys: Why ARE so many young men failing to grow up? (2011). MailOnline. Accessed October 20, 2013.

Sax, Leonard. The Boy Problem: Many Boys Think School is Stupid and Reading Stinks(2007). School Library Journal. Accessed October 20, 2013.

The Boys Initiative. Facts & Figures – Dropping Out. Accessed October 20, 2013.

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