Thursday, 9 April 2009

Are boys naturally violent?

You don’t have to thrust a plastic gun into the hand of a toddler to teach him about violence. He is perfectly capable of fashioning, and deploying, his own weapons from the stuff around him. Branches become swords, remote controls are transformed into death sabres, saucepan lids are magicked into trusty shields.

In fact, a toddler intent on waging war, often against an invisible enemy, is an awe-inspiring vision of energy, resourcefulness, creativity and imagination. And yet, to my reckoning, such behaviour is in danger of becoming pathologised. Several mothers at my daughter’s school have stopped going to the local playground because the play has become a bit rough. This includes waving broken branches around (“it could poke someone in the eye”), tearing around at high speed (“someone could get knocked over”) and shouting at younger children (“bullying”).

When a parent explained this to me, I returned an analysis of the situation: yes, there is one boy in this gang of terrors that might have behavioural problems, but they are just young boys letting off steam after a day in the classroom. Boys are a bit more rough and tumble than our girls, I shrugged, and we can always intervene if things go awry.

I might as well have admitted to having had Pol Pot over for dinner. Read more
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