Affirmative faction: Little John and a boy named Runner
By Alan Scocca
It was Robert Bly who first named the forgotten male in his book Iron John. Since then we have become painfully aware of how easy it is for the young male to be held responsible for the perceived sins of the father. He is attacked rather than nurtured, scorned rather than understood, and ignored rather than rescued. I call these young men and boys "Little John," for they are the sons of the men's movement.
Contempt for Boys
1994 New York, NY - During my tenure as a paramedic in the New York City Emergency Medical Service, I have seen many victims of society's priorities abandoned. We seem to have a great protective instinct for the female, particularly the young female, but little for the male, particularly the young male. He doesn't have many advocates in today's society. All one has to do is remember the pro-flogging attitude of many in America regarding Michael Fay, not even knowing how just the Singapore government was or whether he even committed the crime.
Vandalism in Singapore does not carry a sentence of caning, only the crime Michael Fay was charged with carries such a penalty. According to the Straits Times, a Singapore newspaper, he was charged with a political crime using a spray can. How could a government that has little respect for the human rights America holds so dear, be so applauded by American society? Because he is a young male accused of being a criminal. In today's America that is all it seems to take to inspire our anger toward him. Many in America abandoned him as they had so many other young males before him. Even Rush Limbaugh and his audience mocked Michael Fay and championed the Singapore government, rather than defend him, on two separate occasions.
He is often abandoned in the media, in the courts, in government, and now even in our schools. It was Robert Bly who first named the forgotten male in his book Iron John. Since then we have become painfully aware of how easy it is for the young male to be held responsible for the perceived sins of the father. He is attacked rather than nurtured, scorned rather than understood, and ignored rather than rescued. I call these young men and boys by an appropriate name - "Little John" -- for they are the sons of the men's movement. They are America's future, and, like Runner, America's only hope.
The Death of Daniel Maracallo
"Runner." His friends call him that. It's a name that carries a great deal of respect in his neighborhood. He was born and raised in a section of New York City deep in the South Bronx. As his name implies, he is a survivor. First he survived ten years of abuse at the hands of his mother, his father having been killed in the same streets that gave him his name.
I helped rescue Runner after being called to his home during one hot and steamy summer's night last July. After we took him to the hospital and filed a complaint of suspected child abuse against his mother, he told my partner and I that a fat lip and a black eye were nothing new to him, he had worn them both before. What was different this time was that he had called 911. He had never done that before. Since then he has lived in a group home for abused children. He sees his mother once a week under supervised visitations.
Runner called me some days ago wondering why his friend died. Young children have a very difficult time understanding death, especially when it happens to a friend. He wanted to talk to me about the death of his friend, a young man named Daniel Maracallo. Runner simply couldn't understand how his young friend could have gone on a school outing that day expecting to have a great time and return with a story to tell, only to never return.
On June 15, 1994, Daniel Maracallo, a 14-year-old student at Intermediate School 166 drowned during a class outing to Wildwater Kingdom at Dorney Park in South Whitehall Township, Pennsylvania. Assistant Principal Winsome Naylor was the chief chaperone for the day. She had five other teachers along for the trip to help her take care of the children entrusted to her. Ms. Naylor learned that Daniel was missing at 5p.m. when students were scheduled to leave the park. Ms. Naylor did not notify the principal of the school that Daniel was missing until she returned to the city at approximately 9p.m. Daniel's body was discovered in the park's pool at 1a.m. the following morning -- over four hours after the rented school buses carrying the remaining children and Ms. Naylor arrived home. Students said they saw Daniel having trouble in the "wave" pool and alerted lifeguards. The lifeguards did nothing to investigate and none of the school chaperones intervened.
Killed by Take Our Daughters to Work Day?
Daniel Maracallo's death is just one example of the high death and injury rate for young men entrusted to our New York City school system. Most of these deaths and injuries could be avoided if young men were not abandoned as they often are in a school system entrusted with their safety.
On April 28, 1994, a program resulting in the physical and emotional abandonment of boys between the ages of eight and fifteen years old took place throughout the New York City School system. Thousands of boys were refused passes to be with their parents for the day or allowed on excursions for a fun day in the work place as were girls. To make matters worse, teachers assigned to these young men throughout the school year left their male students in favor of leading hundreds of female students on excursions to city hall, municipal institutions and private corporate work sites.
Unlike any of the other few school systems in the country that participated in "Take Our Daughters to Work Day," the New York City School System participated in this program in such a way that it virtually imprisoned young boys between the ages of eight and fifteen years old and further relegated them to auditoriums and overcrowded classrooms where they were forcibly indoctrinated with feminist speeches and curricula that essentially made many feel angry and punished. The underlying message conveyed the idea that these boys were being treated differently because they hadn't treated girls better, and that is why they must remain in school while their sisters went into the work place for a fun day with parents and teachers. The program was sponsored by the Ms. Foundation and Ms. Magazine.
The Ms. Foundation's response to this was one that conveyed deliberate knowledge of the feelings of rejection and abandonment that thousands of young boys, many of whom are victims of sexual and physical abuse, would certainly feel.
According to the "Take Our Daughters to Work Day - Parents Guide," published by the Ms. Foundation, "Last year, a number of boys felt slighted because they were not allowed to go to work, yet these feelings of rejection proved an important component in educating boys about the realities of girls' and women's lives." Obviously, a vindictive act of emotional abuse was lodged against young boys under the auspices, the approval, and the guidance of the New York City Board of Education. At taxpayer expense, the plan was carried out by staffers of the New York City Board of Education. This program only took the approval of two people within the entire bureaucracy of the New York City Board of Education. They are, the Schools Chancellor Ramon Cortines, and the Chief Executive for Instructional and Student Support Programs, Beverly Hall, Ed.D. Dr. Hall was later promoted by Mr. Cortines.
Who Protects Our Boys?
If men will not protect these young men and boys, who will? An organization I helped found called the United Men's Coalition is an organization that dedicates itself to rescuing and recovering abused boys. We have since been "adopted" by the National Coalition of Free Men (now the National Coalition For Men). NCFM is now our parent organization, and together we are righting this wrong.
The "Take Our Daughters to Work Day" program is nothing less than a form of civil child abuse. It is not a matter of affirmative action, but oppressive action committed by a select group of people who have far too much power and influence over our school system. Jane Pauley's personal defense on "Dateline" of the American Association of University Women's report, which argued that young girls were being cheated in schools, has succeeded, also under the guise of affirmative action, in justifying the abandonment of thousands of young boys in the classroom. We call this elitist faction in the media and in education the "affirmative faction."
The Federal Attorney's Office, at our request, has consented to investigate the way the "Take Our Daughters to Work Day" program was carried out in the school system. A class action law suit on behalf of the young men in the New York City school system is being constructed, and the Board of Education has been denied the right to continue its existence under its current mandate.
Under the auspices of the NCFM, UMC has lobbied the state legislature in Albany to eliminate the New York City Board of Education altogether, and give back control of the schools to parents. The hardest hit of these schools was a high school that caters to single parent families -- 90 percent of which are headed by women. Those schools whose attending student body had fathers to protect them refused to take part in this program.
Schools Need More Male Teachers
Since only 18 percent of teachers in grades one through eight are male, we have further explored the next course of action. We are prepared to bring suit against the State of New York to force them to attempt to recruit more male teachers under state sponsored affirmative action guidelines. It is our hope that these actions will help prevent the needless deaths of young men and boys in the future, although it is a small consolation to Daniel's family. Or to Runner.
Two years ago an incident similar to Daniel Maracallo's occurred at a theme park in New Jersey. A twelve year old girl was missing and it was discovered as the last two buses were scheduled to leave. Those buses stayed until the girl was found -- safe and sound -- after a two hour search. A much different response to what happened in Daniel's case.
A follow-up report by the New York City School Board cited Ms. Naylor, Daniel's Assistant Principal, for "...poor judgment on her part." According to the New York Times, officials investigating the incident "...questioned why Ms. Naylor did not immediately call school officials or the police when she learned the boy was missing and why she left the park without knowing what happened to him."
"She acted like that was an animal who died that day, not a person," said Daniel's eighteen year old sister. The New York City School system has shown itself incapable of caring for the boys of New York City. We have no doubt that if thirteen year old Daniel Maracallo was a thirteen year old girl, the events surrounding his disappearance and subsequent death would have been very different. The death and injury rate of young boys compared with girls, both in our streets and in our schools, shows the Affirmative Faction incapable of caring for America's future -- for the young men and boys who seem to struggle every day just to stay alive.
In the Name of Little John
I assured Runner that his friend's death would not be in vain. Daniel died as the result of the callousness of the school system charged with his safety. But for us, he died in the name of Little John, so that others like him would not be so forgotten.
As Runner starred out the window, watching the gentle rain kiss the glass, I was able to sort through the nebulous reflection of raindrops and the real tears flowing down his cheeks. "I like the name Little John," he said quietly. "It sounds like the character in Robin Hood. You know, the hero who beat the sheriff and even Robin Hood."
For the first time in his life, Runner had a hero.