Trail Life USA CEO Encourages Leaders to Meet the Needs of Boys to Prevent Bullying

‘We Set Boys Up For Failure When We Don’t Recognize That The Desire to Take Risk and Compete, When Denied, Morphs Into Anger as the Only Acceptable Emotional Outlet’

October 11, 2021     

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. According to one source, “bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.” 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 typically do not address the root of the problem, particularly for boys. Mark Hancock, CEO of Trail Life USA (TrailLifeUSA.com), the largest Christ-centered, boy-focused scout-type organization in the country, believes that instead of suppressing the basic needs of boys—such as the drive for competition, risk-taking, and adventure—schools and programs need to provide a healthy outlet for boys to express these innate requirements in order to actively prevent any pent-up aggression manifesting as bullying.

Hancock stated, “A 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—the risk muscle in many boys is atrophying.”

Hancock argues that there are two key factors that lead to boys bullying other children. The first is that many boys do not have a godly man 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, 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 continues, “But we set boys up for failure when we don’t recognize that the desire to take risk and compete, when denied, morphs into anger as the only acceptable emotional outlet. We can do better at understanding the ‘why’ that leads to this unacceptable behavior.”

To meet this need for boys, Trail Life USA provides young men with the opportunity to express these fundamental needs through outdoor adventure, team building activities, and other events designed to speak to the heart of a boy. Trail Life is focused on building leadership skills, creating meaningful connections, and fostering deep relationships with Christ in boys across the country.

“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 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 for your son today, or Start a Troop in your area. Find out more at TrailLifeUSA.com. 

Since Trail Life USA launched on January 1, 2014, it has grown to over 35,000 members in over 860 Troops across the nation. The 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.    

    Discover more about Trail Life USA atTrailLifeUSA.com, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, or Vimeo.   

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    To interview Mark Hancock from Trail Life USA, contactMedia@HamiltonStrategies.com,Jeff Tolson, 610.584.1096, ext. 108, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.