What Happens to Boys?

I don’t write about guns, BLM or the police issues. I just don’t. There’s enough out there about such.

Yet, in Kenosha, WI, a young man from neighboring Antioch, IL, is now charged with murder. He is 17.

What do we know about him, other than his age and where he lives? He seems to have been a police cadet of some sort, and has access to at least semi-automatic rifles. A photo plastered on social media shows him with large gun and a small smile in a stand of trees. He seems to have been infatuated with police and following the protests of the BLM groups after the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

And this is all we have just now. In his 17 years on this world, he has grown from an infant, to a toddler, to a child, to a pre-teen to a teen – and somewhere in there he learned that guns are cool, police are cool and ‘protecting’ family and property is a good thing.

I don’t know his parents, or the community he grew up in. I don’t know the socio-economic challenges he might have faced. I don’t know if he has friends, if he bullied others or was bullied, if he had mental health issues.

What I do know as of now is that the US culture is failing boys left and right. Parents fail to give their sons the tools to become good men, good partners in relationships, good friends, good parts of their communities. Boys become young men who bully, assault. Boys become men who rape, cheat, lie. Boys become front page news across social media for all the wrong reasons.

The US has plenty of reasons to leave boys as they are. We need, so we think, strong, independent men, we think we need more boys to become soldiers, police. We need those who will defend their property and their families.

Do we really need boys to pick up guns and follow police around, “helping” them? Do police need to praise such boys and allow them to roam through peaceful protests?

What happens to boys as they grow up? What experiences cause them to pick up guns and want to shoot at people? How do we parse out the need to protect and the need to think through an action?

I have no answers. What I have right now are tears for families trying to understand deaths.

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