Help our boys, too! - Girls call for destigmatisation of abused males
A group of female students have expressed concern that although their male peers also face victimisation, they are often overlooked because abuse is not readily associated with males in the Jamaican culture.
Of particular concern for the four senior Wolmerians are the numerous studies that underscore that abused boys develop into aggressive men with violent tendencies.
As a result, the teens, who presented at the National Child Month Committee Annual Child Month Youth Forum themed 'Take Action. Break the Chain of Abuse against Children', at the St Andrew Parish Church Hall, St Andrew, yesterday, are imploring the public to destigmatise the issue and end the cycle of abuse.
"I would say that abuse of any sort against boys should be given equal, or even more, importance than girls because males are tasked with protecting the family, which starts with us women first," Kristina Ambersley, 18, told The Gleaner.
She added that it was a lot more difficult for abused males to form meaningful relationships, get jobs, and just, overall, integrate into society due to the mental deterioration caused by abuse while growing up.
Ambersley's twin sister, Kandice, shared her view, while stating that society could adopt Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which reads: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."
She noted: "I agree because as boys, they do feel that people are going to look at them in a certain light because a boy, or man, should be strong or manly. So once they're abused, they try to hide it. We must all be concerned because a boy that grows with abuse with little help tends to grow violent and won't just abuse women, but other men and children also."
Human rights for both genders
Seventeen-year-old Gabrielle Rowe used the platform to reiterate that human rights apply to both genders.
Rowe argued that an equal stance on abuse against children should be adopted at all levels.
"We need to start growing boys to show emotions, just as girls can, without fear because they deserve to be loved and treated well. We're unfair in many ways in this society because if a boy is misbehaving in school, in most cases, the teacher will hit him. However, if it's a girl, they're more likely to shout. They rarely hit. While these instances seem minor, if continuous, it turns boys into emotionally unavailable males," Rowe reasoned.
Her schoolmate, 18-year-old Zorrea Wright, explained that providing boys with love and equal protection as girls wasn't a case of making them soft, but simply producing a good citizen for the country.
"Masculinity doesn't mean you're void of pain and cannot be harmed. It doesn't mean that you shouldn't seek help, and it's a shame that society makes it seem that way. While the reports for females are higher, and you hear about it a lot more, our males are feeling it also, but just not reporting it, so we need to bury this stigma and advance as a country," argued Wright.