The inaugural International Boys Day will be held on Wednesday in what the organisers believe is an opportunity shine a new light on the issues facing boys around the world.

Organisers say about a million people are expected to take part in the day around the world, including the Caribbean, Africa, India, Australia and United States.

IBD

Founder Jerome Teelucksingh, an historian based in Trinidad who is also a Christian, told Sight via email that the main purpose of the day is threefold.

“This special day (also referred to as World Day of the Boy Child), is an attempt to ensure that gender equality is a reality. Secondly, it also intends to find solutions for the many challenges facing our boys. Thirdly, this day intends to highlight the positive aspects of boyhood [and] focus on boys who have excelled at various fields [such] as sports, education and volunteerism.”

Dr Teelucksingh, who is also the founder of International Men’s Day (held on 19th November), said he was partly inspired to found the day after pondering why the United Nations had designated a day for girls – the International Day of the Girl Child – and yet “ignored” boys.

“Furthermore I realised that there was a need for society to focus more on boys who are denied basic human rights, forced to be child soldiers and are victims of human trafficking,” he said.

Boys, he added, are also stereotyped as “violent, aggressive and underachievers”, resulting in a "generation of boys inflicted with an inferiority complex and low self-esteem", while many lacked "proper role models", adopting instead "false models of masculinity".

"These false models include a focus on materialistic values and believe the male identity is based on clothes, money and cars.”

Noting that “many governments tend to ignore the crisis facing boys”, Dr Teelucksingh said that in many countries there is a lack of programs to assist boys who are depressed, victims of bullying or physically abused as well as an absence of statistics on boys who are drop-outs from schools, who are illiterate and who commit suicide.   

He called on non-government organisations to demand that governments take direct action to address these issues. Religious leaders also play an important role and need to "help to ensure that religion is wisely used to create an environment of morals and ethics for misguided boys to improve themselves", Dr Teelucksingh said.

Jerome Teelucksingh

Dr Jerome Teelucksingh, founder of International Boys Day.

Australian Warwick Marsh, of faith-based charity Dads4kids – which is partnering with Dr Teelucksingh in the initiative, agreed there was a “boy crisis” happening around the world.

"Worldwide, boys are 50 per cent less likely than girls to meet basic proficiency standards in reading, math, and science," he said. "The average sperm count of men in the US drops 1.5 per cent every year; one in five young men are not fertile. The gap between male and female suicides has tripled in the United States since the Great Depression. This ratio is very similar across the western world. Mass shootings - which are among the most horrific acts of destruction a person can commit - have tripled in the US since 2011, and most are committed by males."

Mr Marsh said International Boys Day was “one way of highlighting the problem and doing something about it”.

“Jesus said, ‘In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father’," he said. "Dr Jerome Teelucksingh is a devout man of faith who believes in not just talking about the problems in the world around us but, like Jesus said, doing something about them and letting our good deeds shine out for all to see, so that God will get the glory.”

Mr Marsh said the “simple goal of International Boys’ Day is that every boy will grow up to become a man of honour and integrity and be able to contribute in a vital way to his family, his community, his nation to make the world a better place for boys and girls everywhere.”

Communities, families and individuals are all encouraged to take part in the day on 16th May with suggested activities ranging from holding some outdoor games for boys to giving boys in your life a card or letter of appreciation. For more, see www.internationalboysday.org.