A Pattern that No One Wants to Acknowledge
When I heard about the shooting Buffalo via a text from my daughter, I knew right away who the perpetrator was.
It was a young male, socially isolated, seeking commonality in corners of the internet, and finding outlets for his rage from a thriving gun culture.
Same with Uvalde. And the same with so many other violent tragedies.
I’ll bet you knew who it was too. And I bet you also knew who it wasn’t. It wasn’t a soccer mom. It wasn’t a young woman. It’s almost always a young male.
And that’s what’s really going on here. America’s young men are struggling to find their connections, their future and a way to deal with their hormones and feelings of anger.
Young men are increasingly becoming more isolated, killing themselves and others, and struggling to find their way. The comedian Hanna Gadsby put it perfectly when talking about the stereotype of women being “hormonal.” She said “Men get hormonal too, they get a bit testy,” she quips in her Tasmanian accent. “They hit things.”
If this were any other group that could be characterized by skin color or geographic origin, there would be calls to ban or deport them, to bar their access to the country. There would be hatred and ugly speech. But this isn’t limited to an ethnic group. This is a problem that lies squarely with young men and something that many would rather not acknowledge.
And that’s the thing. America’s boys and young men need support to learn to deal with their hormones, to properly (and respectfully) connect with others, and that to do so is healthy. They need positive role models, and if that can’t come from home, it needs to be found and made elsewhere.
As a society reeling from the headlines of gun violence and mass shootings nearly every day, we want to point the finger at one thing, try to fix it and make it better. But it is going to take a concerted effort on many levels. Because the current lethal combination of isolated and angry young men, coupled with legal access to weapons of war is clearly escalating. Statistics show that young men are entering colleges and careers and lower rates, not entering relationships and not forming the types of social connections we’re hard-wired as humans to form.
In short, young men are in crisis. Many have lost hope and purpose and they’re turning, increasingly to violence against themselves and others to act out on their frustrations.
- Support existing and develop new programs that focus on young men’s mental health, identifying and profiling (yes, profiling) those at-risk for isolation and violence. The patterns are there and it’s not hard to see
- Begin earlier in life with curriculum that supports mental health, connection and conflict resolution and make it a part of every child’s learning
- Regulate or eliminate access to all semi-automatic weapons (weapons of war)
- Set 25 as the legal age to purchase firearms (I mean, come on, we don’t even let people rent cars until 25)
- Implement red flag laws and stricter background checks and waiting periods
This problem is like one of those Magic Eye images — the ones where you have to unfocus your eyes for a moment and move the image slowly toward your face until the whole picture emerges. There’s a lot more than one thing going on here. And once you see it, you can’t unsee it.