Who's to blame for 'bad boy' behavior?

Allahpundit already wrote “The obligatory ‘Schwarzenegger did a bad, bad thing'” post — and it’s true. The break-up of a marriage for any reason is no small matter. Add an affair to the mix and the situation’s still messier.

And, as many have pointed out, Schwarzenegger is sadly not alone. In a space of about three seconds, I can think of at least five public figures who’ve had extramarital affairs in recent years.

But men don’t become adulterers overnight. (OK, fine, if you want to be technical, but you know what I mean.) Maybe we should pay a little more attention to the upbringing of young boys, who face surprisingly significant obstacles as they attempt to grow up to be men of integrity. The Boys Initiative aims to highlight a few of these obstacles, and, yesterday, the group revealed some startling data at a DC briefing.

The figures are stark: Compared to girls, boys are less educated and more medicated. One in five men of prime working age is not working. Men have a life expectancy five years shorter than women. Male suicide rates start out equal to females, but steadily rise over the lifespan.

America ranks No. 1 in the world for the number of men in their 50s and 60s with college degrees, but it ranks only ninth for these degrees among men in their 20s and 30s, Thomas Mortenson, education analyst and board member of the Boys Initiative, said.

The statistics don’t stop there. Mortenson’s “For every 100 girls … ” project reveals more:

  • For every 100 fourth grade girls who watch TV four or more hours per day, 123 boys do.
  • For every 100 12th grade girls who used alcohol on school property, 148 boys did.
  • For every 100 girls suspended from public elementary and secondary schools, 215 boys are suspended. Boys are expelled at a rate of 2.97 to every 1 girl.
  • For every 100 girls diagnosed with a learning disability, 276 boys are. Boys are diagnosed with emotional disturbance at a rate of 3.24 to every 1 girl.
  • For every 100 girls ages 15 to 17 in correctional facilities, there are 837 boys behind bars. Men ages 18 to 24 live in group homes at a rate of 1.66 to every 1 woman in the same age range.

It’s no wonder Willie Iles, national director of government relations for Boy Scouts of America, had this to say yesterday:

I am convinced today that we have a national crisis, a national security issue, a state-of-emergency issue and a nation at risk. If anybody cannot understand that, as we talk about investments and the return on those investments – which are our boys – then it is very clear we are going in the wrong direction.

The point is, while the president has busily created a White House Council on Women and Girls and while women have continued to crusade for their own cause, boys have begun to fall through the cracks. And that’s a shame — because we need more honorable men. Just ask Maria Shriver.

So what can be done about it? Common sense suggests the small things. Maybe we should stop disparaging boys and start encouraging them. Maybe we should respect the differences between boys and girls and develop the potential in each accordingly. And, of course, we should continue to write the required posts about Schwarzenegger and others — because intact families surely help.