On the 16th of May, 2020, the whole world was silent. Everyone forgot the International Boy’s Day. It is not the first time the world is forgetting the boy child; the world has always forgotten him.

Every year, Mothers’ day is celebrated every Sunday for about two months particularly in Nigeria. Fathers’ day is celebrated once or twice too and of course loudly. The girl child celebration comes in many shades, we cannot even name it all.

Boys are always forgotten. Yet, we complain everyday of the increasing atrocities, crimes, scandals, rapes, kidnappings, killings, robberies, cultism perpetuated largely by boys.

Before now, we would think of these crimes perpetuated by boys within the age range of 28-39 and falsely conclude that they are useless men who lacked morality and home training.

However, in recent times, we have seen the younger generations taking over the scenes of these atrocities. We see 12 years old boys sign up as cultists, we see cultism in our secondary schools, we see 10 years old boys raping younger and even older girls. We see boys of 16 – 25 years, doing things that were unthinkable in the past.

Anytime a band of yahoo-yahoo boys are rounded up, I am always interested in their age brackets. Sadly, they are always between the ages of 16 and 35, with the majority of them being 16-25.

More terrible things are happening right in our homes. Days ago, a true-life story was posted on our Church’s WhatsApp Group of a woman whose home had just been shattered by her own children. I was destabilized. What happened? To keep it short and simple…

During this coronavirus-lockdown, the 54 year old woman’s son of 17 years old impregnated his two sisters of 15 and 13 years old. The woman is a Christian and a widow.

Last week, I saw the “boys will be boys” tags on Twitter and Instagram, I really didn’t bother to follow all the tweets or posts because I know already what the phrase connotes.

In the past, the “boys will be boys” phrase was used to explain a boy’s natural tendency to be adventurous, hyper-active, and do risky activities which potentially resulted in hurting themselves (Urban Dictionary).

However, nowadays, thanks to some Feminists, the phrase is used as an attempt to imply that sexual assaults and related crimes are normal activities to boys. Unfortunately, many have keyed into this latter understanding.

The ‘boys will be boys’ appellation has now bred, and is still breeding male children who hardly strive to be responsible men in future. Hence, when there is an inexcusably morally depraved action, we excuse them because society has made us believe its okay. We say that cheating in marriage is part of the male chromosome. We say rape was because the girl didn’t dress decently.

Boys can beat their wives and girlfriends and it’s fine. We have “unknowingly” endorsed boys to be profligate, to keep late nights, to lord it over their wives, to be unaccountable for their actions, to be exempted from house chores and home keeping, to be exempted from cooking and kitchen chores, to be great eaters, to be dirty and to be mischievous.

We have taught them to be emotionless, never to cry (boys don’t cry), to repress emotions, to bear unnecessary burdens, to be hideous, to be supermen, to like football, to play games, to be “manly”, never to be effeminate, to be assertive, to always have their ways, never to be virgins, to grab whatever they like, to be macho-muscled men, to flaunt their muscle, to prove their worth at every instance, to show themselves, but also, and sadly, to be mentally sick and psychologically unstable.

Parents and guardians, the simple truth is that most of our boys are sick. They are lost, invisible and forgotten. Many boys are sexually abused every day right from their infanthood. Many boys are being abused psychologically every day by friends and peers. Many boys are exploited everyday by family and strangers.

I heard the story of a guy who has satiriasis. He narrated his ordeal to one of his female friends about the impossibility of not having sex in a day. He anchored this insatiable lust to the ugly experiences he had with their house maid right from when he was four years old and how from that time onwards, he hated himself. The only thing that gives him relief is more sex.

I heard the story of another boy who was sexually abused by his step mom. What about the story the 6 year old boy who accompanies his step father to beer parlours, where he would have to listen to the many tales of the man’s many sexual escapades with prostitutes, amidst heavy drinking and thick puffs of smoke? The poor boy soon copied his step Dad’s habits.

Abused boys grow up to become abusers, and this is largely manifesting in our society today. Majority of the rapists, cheaters, cultists, robbers, kidnappers, wife-beaters, angry dads, and irresponsible fathers wrecking homes and families are victims of abuse.

They were abused psychologically, sexually, emotionally, financially or otherwise. Many more who are currently being abused are also prepping to become potential abusers. Hence, we continue an endless vicious circle of abusers.

Dear Parents and Guardians, each boy is important and in this race of life, nobody should be left behind. The International Boys’ Day is a clarion call to pay attention to our boys. It is a call to train every boy to become a man of honour and integrity, able to contribute vital way to his family, his community, his nation and to make the world a better place for boys and girls everywhere (See HERE for further information).

The Global and Regional Coordinators for World Day of The Boy Child has offered some professional suggestions as part of our collective efforts to help our boys:

  1. Re-write the narrative on strength and masculinity by equating strength with vulnerability.
  2. Facilitate and moderate Global and National Town Halls which serve as venues for boys and adolescent males to engage in a “straight-no chaser dialogue” to express to key stakeholders what they need and want to safely and successfully navigate the arduous journey from boyhood to manhood.
  3. Identify and support existing initiatives which have a successful track record of addressing and helping to eradicate the

(A)academic underperformance of boys and adolescent males and their mischaracterization as being “unteachable”, “intellectually challenged”, and “behaviour problems”;

(B) rising incidence of depression and suicide among boys and adolescent males;

(C) recruitment and utilization of boys and adolescent males as child soldiers;

(D) underlying causes of poverty which lead to boys and adolescent males working full-time to support their families and not attending school;

(E) literacy gap for boys and adolescent males;

(F) lack of legitimate real-life options; and

(G) lack of positive male role models (see www.bmanadvocacy.org)

We need to save the boy Child so as to save our world. We have to focus on boys and their wellbeing. This includes the things they need in order to be happy, healthy and valued in their families and communities.
Unless we rise up in every home to save them, we will continue to suffer the pains and afflictions boys can unleash on the world. God bless all our boys!

© Rev. Fr. ‘Wale Victor IBIYEMI, June, 2020.

Rev Fr ‘Wale Victor Ibiyemi is a Catholic Priest of the Catholic Diocese of Ondo, Ondo State, Nigeria.