The Lost ones – Meeting the emotional needs of boys
‘Final gratitude to Suffolk. To the younger boys, the lost ones, who never seem to find their way home.’ – Midwinter by Fiona Melrose
Writing as a boy who grew up in Suffolk and who never lost his home even though he moved some way away – these words are striking. I learned much about love, family, faith and belonging in Suffolk – lessons never forgotten.
Many boys and men are lost and certainly not particularly more in Suffolk. Too many men in prison, too many deaths caused by men through domestic violence, too many suicides, to many with mental health issues, too many in care, too many with emotional and behavioural needs… I could go on.
That’s not to say all is well for girls and women who also appear in concerning statistics and face additional oppression, sexism and death and abuse at the hands of boys and men.
What’s to be done?
Education priorities – so often politicised and stolen from educators – should include maximise the importance of relationships, emotional literacy, restorative justice, friendship and of course inclusion. We need the language of relationship, the transforming impact of restorative practice and much more.
Boys and men need to better understand their emotional world and find new ways to unclench their hearts to communicate with teachers, partners, friends, each other. The challenge has never been greater with the ever-ready Xbox, PlayStation, mobile, social media or computer to divert minds and energies. The solitary solace of the bedroom has never been greater.
Boys and men need purpose, activity and engagement in shared interests.
This requires brave and radical rethinking of services and also natural supports of the community. We believe community activity in circles, shared interests as evidenced in walking groups, men’s sheds, music, places of worship and men’s groups are part of the way forward.
We are also investing in person centred planning for those caught on the margins or at times of transition with back up Inclusion Facilitation work.,
How do you think we can relocate the lost boys and bring them home?