Helping boys to become men

RITES OF PASSAGE: Teeya Blatt has devised a program to help boys grow into men by celebrating their development with a series of rites.
RITES OF PASSAGE: Teeya Blatt has devised a program to help boys grow into men by celebrating their development with a series of rites. Contributed

TEEYA Blatt has studied the challenges faced by boys growing up in a culture in which there are no formal rites of passage - and the destructive vacuum that can leave them in.

The only signposts for youngsters in the West is when they are told at the age of 18 that they can drink and they can drive, Ms Blatt, a psychologist and teacher, said.

"So we now have a lot of young men dying on the roads."

Teeya's research, and her experience of motherhood of a boy, spurred her to put together a program aimed at affirming boys and guiding them in their development into healthy men.

Called From Heroes Into Men: A Boy to Manhood Program for Communities, it is a long-term project which begins with eight-year-olds and a "blessing ceremony" to establish a boy's peer group and alert them to the start of their journey.

Aged 10, the boys create their individual "shield of honour", a physical or artistic symbol laying out the characteristics the boy wants when he is a man.

"Their shield is a goal and a guide, and also a symbolic defence to protect them from negative forces in, say, the playground," Ms Blatt said.

"We should not let boys who dressed up as Superman or Batman forget that that's what they wanted to become."

An information night is at the Byron Community College in Jonson St on November 18 from 4-6pm. Phone 0416 570 114.

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