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A better type of 'male model'

Forget "all the flowers." The question haunting social service workers today is, "Where have all the male role models gone?"

Apparently not to "young girls every one."

According to Anne Burkholder of the YWCA, the 100 or so boys at the shelter for abused women on any given night desperately need male role models who do not turn to violence to deal with problems and stress. Often, boys in homes where there are abusers turn to abuse. In short, it's a downward spiral, with whole families being sucked into the whirlpool and destroyed.

What to do?

For starters, this is the annual YWCA "Week Without Violence" — six days of activities and seminars to help women and men come to grips with issues such as anger management. The theme this year is that going to blows is never an option. Ever.

Organizers are asking courts to factor in the modeling behavior — such as coping skills — when children are relegated to families. Social service groups also claim that the lessons young children learn by seeing violence in the home should carry more weight than it does when plea bargains are struck with perpetrators.

We agree.

We also urge more males to get involved with structured mentoring programs to help young boys see alternatives to going down the ugly and destructive path followed by their parents. But more than that, we urge male family members — grandfathers, uncles, cousins, brothers and even friends — to take their involvement up a notch and not only speak with troubled boys but actually "model" calmness, caring, patience and self-control for them. Without those examples, desperate times await.

An old Spanish proverb says, "When you live with wolves, you learn to howl." But, on the other hand, Albert Einstein also had it right when he said, "The example of great and pure individuals is the only thing that can lead us to noble thoughts and deeds."

The time for adult male relatives of traumatized children to hang back and cluck their tongues is over.

It is time to step up and show young boys what it's like to be a man.

And this week, a "Week Without Violence," is a good week to get going on it.