Lacking the knowledge and skills to deal with these experiences puts them at risk.
We know from research conducted within Europe that the leading causes of death for adolescent young men are traffic accidents, suicide, and interpersonal violence*.
Young people adopt their personal lifestyles during the transition from family and home to adulthood under the influence of a complex mixture of economic, social, cultural, and educational processes.
The impact of inequalities (gender, social, and/or health) may be immediate, with poor outcomes during childhood and adolescence.
Gender norms and social constructions of masculinity often contribute to these harmful behaviours and practices. The imbalance of power in decision-making, vulnerability to violence, difficultly accessing certain health services, and social inequality, which limits opportunities and possibilities, are just some of the consequences of gender norms and traditions. Also, adherence to norms that idealize skinny girls as an example of that which is socially desirable in girls during puberty can and lead to girls feeling that they mustlive up to these social expectations. The result is an increased number of girls who expose themselves to extreme diets, which is very unhealthy during puberty. By empowering young people to recognize and successfully oppose harmful social norms, we can develop a critical mass of young people who will, by using their knowledge and skills, make decisions that contribute to healthy, non-violent resolution of relational problems and promote a society with greater equality and equity.
This is what emerges from CARE International Balkans, and this is precisely what motivated the authors of program Y to write this manual and to urge its use.
We started our debate with the guys in school, paying attention to identity, genderand emotions.
We start to talk about gender (What is this thing called gender?) to make them understand the differences between gender and sex and reflect on how gender norms influence the lives and relationships of women and men, we helped them to understand this distinction trough questions that helped them to reason.
They understood successfully how these differences are constructed by society and are not part of nature or biological make-up.
Then we focused on emotions (Expressing my emotions) to recognize the difficulties young people face in expressing certain emotions and the consequences for themselves and their relationships making them understand that emotions can be seen as a form of energy that allows to perceive what is oppressing or bothering.
Different emotions are simplya reflection of different needs, and it is best tolearn how to deal with all of emotions as they appear in live.
Being able to express emotions without causing harm to others helps to make stronger as individuals and helps better to relate with the world around.
How each person expresses emotions varies and is not responsible for feeling certain emotions, or responsible for what to do with what is feeling but it is critical to distinguish between “feeling” and “acting” in order to find forms of expression that do not bring harm to itself or to others.
In Most we focused about what is violence (What is violence?) and labelling.
Talking about violence with the goal to identify different types of violence that may occur in intimate relationships, families, and communities. We asked to the guys to think about what violence means to the them, then each of them shared his own opinion and we started the debate discussing about the common points, but to make them understand and to identify the different meanings and types of violence they read a series of case studies.
Research has confirmed that violence is mainly a learned behaviour*.
Boys and young men learn to be violent by watching their fathers and brothers use violence, by being encouraged to play with guns, by being told that the only to be a real man is to fight with anyone who insults them, by being treated in violent ways or subjected to violence by their peers or families; by being taught that expressing anger and aggression is okay, but that expressing sadness or remorse is not.
Biology may also have something to do with the fact that men perpetrate violence more than women, but to a very limited extent.
At its most basic level, violence can be defined as the use of force (or the threat of force) by one individual against another. Violence is often used as a way to control another person, to have power over them. It happens all around the world and often stems from the way that individuals, especially men, are raised to deal with anger and conflict. It is commonly assumed that violence is a “natural” or “normal” part of being a man.
However, violence is a learned behaviour and, in that sense, it can be unlearned and prevented. As has been discussed in other sessions, men are often socialized to repress their emotions, and anger is sometimes one of the few socially acceptable ways for men to express their feelings.
Moreover, men are sometimes raised to believe that they have the “right” to expect certain things from women (e.g., domestic tasks or sex) and the right to use physical or verbal abuse if women do not provide these things. It is important to think about how rigid gender roles regarding how men should express their emotions and how they should interact with women are harmful to both to individual men and to our relationships. In daily lives, it is fundamental that, as young people, to think about what can do to speak out against other’s use of violence.
The last educational discussion was about labelling with the goal to recognize how labelling people can limit individual potential and affect relationships.
We helped the guys to reason through questions make them understand that labels and stereotypes affect people as individuals as well as their relationships with others. It is important to think critically about how to treat people and the way that people treat other people and how can “unlearn” some of the ways that interact with others based on labels.
For example, you should learn how to not:
- Be judgmental of someone before you get to know them;
- Use labels or negative nicknames;
- Discriminate based on sex, religion, ethnicity, or socioeconomic class;
- Make someone in the family and/or community a scapegoat;
- Be inflexible or stubborn in your attitudes;
- Show indifference, silence, or spite.
The feeling of belonging to a group and being accepted for who you are is fundamental to learning and developing your individual and collective potential.
As to move forward with these sessions and with daily lives, you should actively try to move beyond labels and be more open-minded in how to relate to others.
We will continue to educate our youth by discussing others issues that they face during adolescence; by opening them for comparison and reasoning, making sure that tomorrow they can be better men and women.
*PROGRAM Y: Authors: FeđaMehmedović, Association XY Sarajevo; Prof.SašaPetković, PhD, CARE in Bosnia and Herzegovina; John Crownover, CARE in Bosnia and Herzegovina
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