Since the 1990s, young boys have increasingly become the victims of zero-tolerance policies in schools, resulting in 70% of expulsions across the U.S. The reason? According to Christina Hoff Sommers, American Enterprise Institute (AEI) resident scholar, boys, who for the most part love to engage in action narratives involving heroes, bad guys, rescues and shoot-ups, are being punished for acting like typical little boys.
The concern school officials have with such play is not a new concept, fearing that if the behavior is not dealt with in a harsh manner and at a young age it may result in future psychological disorders and malicious actions. Schools have even gone so far as to eliminate games like dodgeball, red rover, tag and have even renamed “tug of war” to “tug of peace.”
Experts argue that play is a critical basis for learning and boys’ heroic play is no exception. Researchers Mary Ellin Logue and Hattie Harvey even found that “bad guy” play:
- Improved children’s conversation and imaginative writing
- Builds moral imagination
- Increases social competence
- Imparts critical lessons about personal limits and self-restraint
Logue and Harvey also fear that growing intolerance for boys’ action-narrative-play may be detrimental to early language development and weaken their attachment to school.
The following video published by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), explores the growing gender gap in education and its implications for future generations: