A positive step for young men

Published 7:48 pm Tuesday, March 29, 2016

If there’s one overarching lesson from the many studies that describe the dangers of children growing up in homes where fathers are not present, it is this: Adolescent and teenage boys need good role models in their lives, whether those role models are fathers or non-family members — or even both. The absence of such positive influences can be disastrous, especially for young men.

Recognizing the need for good male role models, a group of 20 businessmen recently visited Lakeland High School to meet with 80 male students who had been selected to take part in the school’s annual Day of Motivation and Encouragement.

The event was organized by the school’s male-mentoring program, which seeks to provide opportunities for the participating boys and young men to meet and get to know men who can help them learn to make good decisions that will have long-term beneficial effects on their lives.

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During the recent Day of Motivation, the students met with shipyard workers, pastors, retail managers, a state police officer, a government worker and even an NFL player.

The message from all of the elders was the same: Think about how today’s actions and decisions will affect your future.

For most adults, that kind of thinking has come to be common sense. But many men will recall a time in their younger years when such was not the case, when hormones and passions motivated them to do things that could have jeopardized their futures. Others will recognize that failing to do something — like, for instance, failing to set goals for oneself — had a similar effect on their lives.

Those are the kinds of things mentors help young men and women understand. And for some reason, at least in American society, it seems to be the young men who need the most help coming to that understanding.

Lakeland’s male-mentoring program is a good step toward positive intervention in the lives of young men. Programs like the Day of Motivation and Encouragement take that effort another step in the right direction.