What Challenges Are Boys Facing and What Opportunities Exist to Address those Challenges?

08/01/2008

Principal Investigator: JBS International

Overview

Many adolescent boys are doing well. They graduate from high school, stay out of trouble, and reach adulthood prepared for the world of work and the responsibilities of family. For young men like these, opportunities have never been greater.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation commissioned a review of the literature on the risks and assets that affect boys ages 10 through 18.  By summarizing and synthesizing the existing literature, the project aims to pinpoint what strengths make some boys likely to succeed and what risks, or challenges, increase the likelihood that they will struggle.  It does not make an effort to compare boys to girls; it does not intend to imply that an issue for boys isn't also relevant for girls.  In fact, research shows that many of the same risk and protective factors, as well as interventions, may be relevant for both boys and girls.

A major goal of the project is to provide information about approaches that help boys stay on the right track.  These approaches range from formal programs, such as anti-drug or anti-gang programs, to environmental interventions, such as when a community bands together to create safe places for youth to congregate, to more informal approaches, such as when a concerned adult befriends a troubled adolescent.

The project has produced a brief on key findings, an annotated bibliography, and fact sheets focusing on seven research areas, or domains:  mortality and victimization, juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, mental health, education, employment, and constructive use of time.  The project examines the influence, both positive and negative, of boys' characteristics; their families, peers, and schools; and their communities.  This project also highlights the positive impact that caring adults in families, schools, and communities can have on the well-being of boys and young men.

Available Reports in the Series:

  • Initial Findings Brief, August 2008.  (PDF version, 22 pages) This brief gathers and synthesizes statistics and research related to risks for boys across multiple domains, identifies successful interventions, and offers concrete suggestions for how caring community members can help support boys in their adolescence and as they transition to adulthood.  Research on mortality and victimization; delinquency and violence; substance abuse; education; and positive youth activities is included.  This brief is based on a comprehensive review of scientific literature on the strengths and challenges that affect boys ages 10 through 18.
  • Fact Sheets, August 2008 These Fact Sheets offer facts about boys in seven research areas, or domains: mortality and victimization, juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, mental health, education, employment, and constructive use of time.  Also included are risk and protective factors that influence outcomes for boys in these domains.
    • Constructive use of time.  Do constructive uses of time affect youth outcomes?  See a snapshot of boys participation in afterschool activities, physical activities, religious activities, volunteering and service learning, and employment and how these activities contribute to positive outcomes in youth.  [PDF version, 4 pages]
    • Education.  How do family, school and community factors influence boys success or failure in school?  Learn about the many academic challenges boys can face, including learning disabilities, underachievement, and dropping out of school, as well as what contributes to academic success.  [PDF version, 4 pages]
    • Employment.  Is having a job harmful or beneficial to boys?  This fact sheet presents trends in employment patterns among youth, where boys work, employment outcomes, and what happens when employment is connected with school and other activities.  [PDF version, 4 pages]
    • Juvenile delinquency.  What do we know about boys involvement with the juvenile justice system?  See trends in property crimes, violent crimes, status offenses, as well as risk and protective factors related to juvenile delinquency.  [PDF version, 4 pages]
    • Mental health.  What mental health issues are boys now struggling with?  Learn about how ADHD, anxiety disorders, and mood disorders affect boys, and how many actually receive treatment.  [PDF version, 4 pages]
    • Substance abuse.  Is alcohol, drug, and tobacco use among boys prevalent today, and what is the connection between substance abuse and other negative outcomes?  Read about boys use and abuse of alcohol, drugs and tobacco and their treatment rates.  [PDF version, 4 pages]
    • Victimization and mortality.  What influences contribute to boys becoming victimized  or victimizers?  This fact sheet offers an overview of the risk and protective factors that contribute to victimization and mortality among boys, as well as rates of victimization and mortality among boys.  [PDF version, 4 pages]
  • Annotated Bibliography, August 2008.  (PDF version, 52 pages) The Annotated Bibliography is the result of a comprehensive review of literature on the strengths and challenges that affect boys ages 10 through 18.  It provides evidence-based work that highlights the challenges boys face and investigates what strengths, such as the positive impact that caring adults in families, schools, and communities can have on the well-being of boys and young men.