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Oct 24, 2019

Transforming the Traditional Way of Socializing Young Men

Traditionally, young men are expected not to show emotions and be tough. But is this having a negative effect and is it contributing to violence? The CARICOM secretariat is holding a pilot workshop in Belize with a view of transforming the way society sees young men to allow them to embrace their role to ensure gender equality. The theme of the workshop is ‘’Theme: Rethinking Masculinity, Understanding Gender Equality as a Means of Ending Violence in Schools and by extension the community. News Five’s Duane Moody has the following report.


Duane Moody, Reporting

It often happens among family members, where they are overly protective of female minors. While young boys are told to be macho and treated differently; they are expected to toughen up and not show any signs of emotions. But the way how young men are treated in homes, as well as in schools, has had a crippling effect on their psychological state and how they identify themselves in society.


Ann-Marie Williams

Ann-Marie Williams, Deputy Programme Manager, Gender & Development, CARICOM Secretariat

“You could cry; you get hurt too, you have hurt feelings. And so parents…it’s for them to say listen, we have to change how we socialize our boys and our girls. If you look at it, our boys are told by their own parents: boy stop act like sissy, boy stop act like this and we wonder why the society is the way it is. Suicide on the rise, we have more young men in conflict with the law; we have them younger and younger as criminals.”


The CARICOM Secretariat, through its Gender and Development Programme with support from the Tenth European Development Fund CARIFORUM Project, has been implementing a series of pilot workshops in five member states. Its fourth stop is in Belize and stakeholders within the community, including the church, community leaders as well as the Ministries of Human Development and Education, are being engaged to rethink masculinity and understand gender equality as a means of ending violence in schools.


Ann-Marie Williams

“School is an important place to cultivate the right kind of masculinity—not the masculinity that is referred to as toxic masculinity where men is aggressive and beat up their wives or beat up each other or have no respect. Masculinity can be rooted in peace. And sport was cited as an important way to create participation, competition, build character and prepare them for manhood. The study also said that young boys are made to conform to what society things of them and when they behave bad and all these things, they are penalized for it. And sometimes penalized to a point in school to alter their education; they are expelled, they wind up in trouble with the law and you know the rest from there.”


The workshop is a direct result of the recommendations from a Youth Masculinity and Violence Report that was commissioned in 2012 and focused on students between the ages of fifteen and twenty-one. It showed that:

One – boys are being forced to conform with societal expectations or risk being labelled and ridiculed from peers as well as critical adult groups,

Two – aggression and physical violence continue to be viewed as ‘normal male behaviour while similar behaviour from females is viewed negatively and

Three – that harmful beliefs exist among young males regarding the treatment of women and girls and it can be linked to gender-based violence.

Peter Weller is a Community Clinical Psychologist from Jamaica, but living in Trinidad. He studies behavioural science. Weller is the founder of the Caribbean Male Action Network which tried to build capacity to organizations working with men. Weller says that there is a misconception between gender equality and sexual orientation.


Peter Weller

Peter Weller, Community Clinical Psychologist

“The fear that many people have that sexual orientation is going to be affected by emotional regulation sensitivity and awareness and there is no evidence of that. If someone is going to have a different sexual orientation, they are going to have that anyway. We want all young people—whether male or female—to be strong, to be assertive, but also to be tolerant to be kind to be nurturing. We want them to be sensitive to other people while still being able to fight for their rights. And what we are trying to do is to prevent these dichotomies that you must be one or the other. One of the ways that that has a negative effect is that our boys and young men because they are taught some of these older beliefs without the context of the healthier believes, they don’t know how to regulate their emotions.”


At the end of the two-day session, it is expected that the participants will be empowered to implement effect strategies to engage adolescent youth, to raise awareness of how masculinity affects gender equality and to build capacity of the village that is needed to raise a child.


Peter Weller

“They say it takes a village to raise a child, but a village can only raise a child if they understand the needs of the child and they understand the world the child is operating in.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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