Trail Life USA CEO addresses bullying by challenging men to meet the needs of boys

When it comes to bullying, “we can do better at understanding the ‘why’ that leads to this unacceptable behavior,” says Mark Hancock

October 17, 2022

GREENVILLE, S.C. Despite the best efforts from parents, teachers and mentors, many children across America experience some form of bullying on a daily basis. One study reported that about 49 percent of children in grades four to 12 claim to be bullied by other students at least once a month, and 31 percent of children reported being the ones who bullied. While girls typically resort to verbal or emotional bullying, boys tend to be physically bullied more often.

For adults trying to prevent bullying, these statistics are sobering. While some schools are trying to implement programs and outreaches to address these issues, they often do not address the root cause of the problem, particularly for boys. Mark Hancock, CEO of Trail Life USA (, the largest Christ-centered, boy-focused scout-type organization in the country, believes that there are two key factors that lead to boys bullying other children. The first is a lack of men to set a good example in their lives. According to the U.S. Census, the number of children living with only their mothers has doubled in the past 50 years, making a mother-only household the second most common living arrangement for children in America. The majority of teachers are also women, leaving these boys adrift without strong, male, biblical role models.

The second reason that boys might begin to bully other children, according to Hancock, is that boys handle their emotions differently than girls. Most boys don’t process emotion by sitting and vulnerably sharing their feelings. They need action, activity, and purpose to bring these emotions out in the open. These are the very elements denied to boys 8-10 hours a day at school, and therefore need to be addressed elsewhere. 

“There’s no excuse for behavior that doesn’t respect that all human life has unquestionable value, worth and dignity,” Hancock stated, “The Trail Life USA Trailman Oath ends with the biblical pledge to ‘treat others as I want to be treated.’ But we set boys up for failure when we don’t recognize that boys often need to be active to effectively express emotion. When boys feel overwhelmed and are denied the opportunity for movement, frustrations often morph into outbursts. We can do better at understanding the ‘why’ that leads to this unacceptable behavior.”

Instead of suppressing the basic needs of boys — such as the drive for competition, risk-taking, and adventure — schools and programs need to provide outlets for boys to thrive educationally, and to express themselves in a healthy, active manner. They need to provide outlets for the boyish exuberance and pent-up aggression that, when restrained, may many manifest as bullying.

Hancock stated, “God created boys with a drive for action, risk, and adventure. It is hard-wired. This willingness to take risks is one of the most important elements of innovation. Yet, the development of a healthy tolerance for risk is becoming one of the most endangered traits of childhood. Between an educational system that rewards rightness over risk, and a culture that emphasizes structured activity over free play, this important muscle in many boys is atrophying.”

To meet this need for boys, Trail Life USA provides young men with the opportunity to express these fundamental needs alongside adult mentors who — through outdoor adventure, team building activities, and other events designed to engage the heart of a boy — unlock potential, create meaningful connection, provide a venue to talk about life, build leadership skills, and foster a transformational relationship with Christ.

“Trail Life USA supplies the place, the programs, and the outdoor adventures to connect boys to other boys, to adult mentors, and to their God-given purpose to become godly men,” said Hancock. “This is our moment to show the kind of positive, meaningful impact that Trail Life Troops can make in boys’ lives, and to inspire them to strengthen and maintain those friendships with fellow Troop members and mentors into their adult years.”

Trail Life’s unique approach is garnering attention from families across the nation. Trail Life has grown by over 17,000 new Troop members in 2022 alone. In just the last month, nearly 500 individuals have reached out for information on starting a Trail Life Troop, and more than 30 new Troops have been chartered in the past 30 days. With Trail Life’s success in growing to nearly 45,000 members in under ten years, boys and men are building meaningful relationships, growing in character, developing in leadership, and just having fun in the great outdoors.

Trail Life USA has received praise from some of the top Christian voices today, including Focus on the Family, Franklin Graham, James Dobson, Mike Huckabee, Alex and Stephen Kendrick, Family Life, Promise Keepers, the American Family Association, and many others. 

Trail Life USA is the premier national character development organization for young men, producing godly and responsible husbands, fathers, and citizens. Trail Life’s mission is to guide generations of courageous young men to honor God, lead with integrity, serve others, and experience outdoor adventure. Troops exist in all 50 states and are growing as Trail Life USA expands around the country. Find a Troop today, or Start a Troop in your community. Find out more at  

Trail Life USA’s K-12 program centers on outdoor experiences that build a young man’s skills. A robust awards program motivates young men to grow on a personal level to become role models and leaders among their peers. Living the Trail Life USA is a journey established on timeless values derived from the Bible.    

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