The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Issues Affecting Men and Boys formed in March 2021 has today published its first-ever report highlighting the views of seven leading experts heard over four evidence sessions on what it is like to ‘to be a boy today’. After hearing the evidence, the APPG believes there needs to be concerted action from the Government and policymakers in tackling a range of disadvantages boys and young men face in Britain.
Between April and July 2021, the seven experts gave a snapshot of the disadvantages and challenges that so many boys face and their individual ideas they have to solve them. They spoke with respect to their particular areas of expertise in family life, fatherlessness, education, community and social influences, and health.
While the speakers gave evidence about different aspects of a boy’s life, the APPG believed three themes emerged: These were:
- The mainstream narrative on men and boys leads to a lack of action on the disadvantages and issues negatively affecting them – even when the figures are in plain sight.
- The psychological, behavioural and developmental differences between boys and girls need to be better understood, alongside not making assumptions about men and boys’ help-seeking.
- There is little acknowledgement of the long-lasting impact of early trauma on boys and men and also the need for positive role models.
Following the evidence sessions, the view of the members of the APPG are that there is clearly a need for the Government, policymakers, statutory agencies and sectors (particularly education and health) to take concerted and coordinated action in focussing on:
- Addressing areas of disadvantage facing boys in Britain today, especially given that the data and issues are clearly available and visible
- Improving the understanding of male psychology and biology, and, translating this into policies, programmes and funding streams that address the challenges
- Ensuring that public services and communications are as boy/male friendly as possible
- Being proactive in addressing societal and cultural myths around male behaviour, help-seeking and motivations
The APPG also believes that the views and proposals of national experts, including those who spoke at the evidence sessions, should be taken into account in addressing the issues.
Nick Fletcher MP (Don Valley), vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Issues Affecting Men and Boys, said: ‘The APPG was formed because a range of Parliamentarians shared the view that there was a need to better understand the challenges experienced by men and boys and raise their profile. These included education, physical health, mental health, fatherhood alongside more broadly, how society supported men and boys who were disadvantaged in these and other areas.
‘For our first report, the wide range of experts gave evidence about different aspects of a boy’s life and some common themes emerged about the barriers and disadvantages they face. Importantly, we heard a range of ideas about how things can be improved. We believe Government and Parliament should take note and alongside policymakers, think tanks and sector representative bodies, they should take concerted action to address them.
‘If we are to live in a fully inclusive country, we need to address the disadvantages that men and boys face alongside the need to address the disadvantages women and girls face. We all live in our society together – boys are sons, brothers and future husbands, partners, dads and work colleagues. Resolving the issues boys face today means a better society for all, now and in the future.’
The remit of the APPG is ‘to raise awareness of disadvantages and poor outcomes faced by men and boys in education, mental and physical health and law; to influence attitudes, role models, policy and legislation that will lead to positive differences to their well-being and lives.’
The future work of this APPG will be to look in more depth, to ‘shine a light’ on particular aspects and bring forward recommendations for action by government, policymakers and different sectors. A Men’s Health Strategy will be the next area the APPG will focus upon.