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EDITIONS
Thursday, 28 February, 2002, 00:21 GMT
Learning what it takes to be a man
Edmond poru
Men should be more nurturing, says Edmond, 17
Youngsters and staff at a centre for boys who have been excluded from school or are at risk of exclusion have stressed the importance of positive role models.


We have to do the repairing of the damages of absent fathers

Centre director Uana Seshmi

The From Boyhood to Manhood Foundation in south-east London aims to get teenagers back on the right track so they can resume mainstream education.

The director, Uana Seshmi, said it was important to teach them to be responsible men - and that there was more to becoming a man than growing up biologically.

Uanu Seshmi:
Uanu Seshmi: "We act as role models"
"It's important that the boys have positive role models," he said.

This was not only about their fathers - community and society's expectations of them also played a part. But fathers were critical.

"We have to do the repairing of the damages of absent fathers," he said.

"What we do as role models and as responsible adults is to show these young people that as an adult you have a responsibility."

boys washing up
Real men do the washing up
Seventeen-year-old Edmond Poru said his father had not been around a great deal when he was very young, so he had found it hard to relate to him when he grew older.

"It was kind of hard for me to accept him as my father.

"That had a little to do with my rough teenage years."

Girls were more accustomed to having their mothers around and could learn from them, he said.

'Superwomen'

"Mothers are usually more nurturing to their children whereas dads will put you in a room, like 'Do the work'.

"The fathers need to be more nurturing sometimes."

The executive director of Sass, the foundation's parent organisation, Decima Francis, said black women had become "superwomen", doing everything, whereas the men often were "invisible".

Decima Francis
Decima Francis: "Women cannot bring up boys"
And boys as they grew up needed to learn from men - their mothers could not do it all.

"The boys want to become good fathers," she said.

"They are very adamant about being involved in their children's lives because they know the effect that it has and they don't want to be like the people that they see around them - except where the fathers are actively involved and then they want to be like their dads."

The foundation had talked to all the local high schools last year.

"What we found was that the boys whose fathers were actively involved - not just in the home as a good father but actively involved in their schoolwork, helping with their homework, went to the schools, to the parents' day et cetera, and took a keen interest - were doing very, very well," she said.

"Boys want to have role models who are men.

"They don't want to have role models who are footballers, they want role models who they know personally ... people who are close at home who they can emulate properly.

"If that influence is not there then they have nothing to strive for."

See also:

28 Feb 02 | Education
11 Dec 01 | England
12 Jun 01 | Education
25 Mar 99 | Education
Links to more Education stories are at the foot of the page.


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