Boys Encouraged to Speak Out on Issues

By Kinnesha George-Harry

‘Boys, speak up!’ This was the message resonating through the corridors of the Shaw Park Cultural Complex on Friday as male Secondary School students gathered to celebrate World Day of the Boy Child, which was commemorated on Wednesday.

The event began with a walk from the Scarborough Esplanade to the Complex, where Caribbean Coordinator of International Men’s Day, Michael Stewart welcomed participants and explained the aim of the conference was to encourage boys to articulate issues and challenges they encounter with relationshipa, drug abuse and violence and relationships with their fathers.

Stewart said World Day of The Boy Child was a call to action for individuals, institutions, and organisations to collaboratively address and resolve issues prohibiting boys from reaching their full potential.

“Boys lag behind girls in our educational system, they are more prone to violence, drugs, suicide and crime. This day helps to put focus on the many issues that affect our boy children,” he said.

President of the Tobago Mission of Seventh-day Adventist, Pastor Toney Mapp, also speaking at the event, noted:

“This thing about been male, this thing about having ego is something else. This thing about having this sense that you are awesome and that you are powerful beyond measure is something else,” said Mapp.

“It is an important thing to have and yet it is such an interesting and important thing to be in control of… ego that makes you feel you can soar… if somebody only snaps it a little and makes you feel less than, tells you things that makes you don’t believe that it is possible that you can be great, this thing called ego can just break inside of you and all of a sudden you start feeling like you can’t achieve anything.

“It is amazing how quickly ego can be broken and that’s why more men commit suicide than women do. Men don’t mind going around and having sex with every girl but, if his girlfriend has sex with one extra man, he is devastated, he is mashed into pieces. We as challenged as men because we never like to compete with women, as males we never want to compete with women… boys are penetrative, women are speculative,” he said.

THA Assistant Secretary of Community Development, Enterprise Development and Labour, Shomari Hector, in delivering the feature address at the event, said he grew up in an era where the rule was that ‘little children must be seen and not heard.’

This has since changed, as the world has now changed into a place that liberates the young man, said Hector.

“There is an insatiable, an inalienable right of importance that is centered around your existence, it is the right of every child and today it becomes the right of you the boy child. As young men, we have to use our lives to construct the kind of future that we want for ourselves…

“I believe that in an accommodating Tobago, that if we were to set our spikes a little higher and raise expectations for future generations, my generation and generations above me, than any man, any woman, any child can realise their full potential simply because we have to be living in an age where speaking up is now a right and not a luxury,” he said.

Hector said that he was disheartened that they weren’t more boys, men and fathers to lend support to the initiative but added that numbers were not important is there was a consciousness of the need to change the mindset.

“We don’t need one million, we don’t need one hundred thousand, all we need is conscious men because a conscious minority is a sufficient majority to change the world. Despite the circumstances of my birth, despite the community in which I was raised, the environment in which I was bred, opportunities did present itself.

“When the convention of society said, boy sit down, I chose to speak up and you now have an opportunity to do the same,” he said.

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