The Boys are All Right

Statistics collected over two decades show an alarming decline in the performance of America’s boys–in some respects, a virtual free fall. Boys were doing poorly in school, abusing drugs, committing violent crimes and engaging in promiscuous sex. Young males lost ground by many behavioral indicators at some point in the 1980s and ’90s: sharp plunges on some scales, long erosions on others. I was forced to confront a fact that I had secretly known all along: that teens of 30 years ago–my generation–were the leading edge of an epidemic of thugs, dolts and cads.

No wonder so many writers began calling for change in the late 1990s. Reliable social-science data often lag a couple of years behind the calendar; it takes time to gather and compile a nation’s worth of numbers. Stories about social trends that you read today may be describing the reality of 2004 or 2005. The groundbreaking boy books were a response to statistics portraying the worst of a physical, mental and moral health crisis.

There’s more to the story, however. That downward slide has leveled off–and in many cases, turned around. Boys today look pretty good compared with their dads and older cousins. By some measures, our boys are doing better than ever. —David Von DrehleThe Boys are All Right (Time)

I’ve blogged about the “boy crisis” before, and this is a thoughtful, moderating rebuttal.