Thomas Sowell

THE motto used to be: "Boys will be boys." Today, the motto seems to be: "Boys will be medicated."

Of nearly 20 million prescriptions written last year for drugs to treat "attention deficit hyperactivity disorder," most were for children and most of those children were boys. This is part of a growing tendency to treat boyhood as a pathological condition that requires a new three R's -- repression, re-education and Ritalin.

Some schools have gone to such extremes as banning recess, since boys tend to be boisterous at recess. Competitive sports are likewise banned or made non-competitive, sometimes by banning winning and losing. An aptly titled book, "The War Against Boys" by Christina Hoff Sommers, catalogs the amazing array of things that schools do to keep boys from being boys.

Some of this is being pushed by propaganda from radical feminists who want boys to be like girls. Their dogmas declare that the behavior usually seen in boys is a result of society's indoctrinating them with a male role stereotype. The answer? "We need to raise boys like we raise girls," according to Gloria Steinem. Gloria Allred is more specific, "we need to socialize boys at an earlier age, perhaps to be playing with dolls." Some schools have followed such advice, even to the point of encouraging boys to wear dresses.

Despite the radical feminist dogma that sex differences are created by society, and that maleness in particular needs to be changed by society, a growing body of scientific evidence shows that boys and girls differ from day one, beginning in the womb, before society has had anything to do with them. The radical feminist response to such evidence? They say such research should be banned! Even without such bans, their mindless dogmas prevail over scientific evidence and pervade the education establishment.

Meanwhile, there are drug companies making well over a hundred million dollars a year each by selling drugs for "attention deficit hyperactivity disorder." Knowing a good thing, they are now not only advertising these drugs to doctors and school officials, but are also trying to gain more widespread acceptance from parents by running ads aimed at mothers through such outlets as the Ladies Home Journal and 30-second TV commercials.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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