June 9, 2009

Study: Boys’ school issues neglected

Both boys and girls have learning issues, but those affecting boys in school are more serious and have been neglected, a U.S. researcher says.

Judith Kleinfeld of the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, reviewed gender differences in literacy levels, college entrance tests, school grades, engagement in school, dropout rates, as well mental health, suicide, depression and conduct disorders.

The study, published in the journal Gender Issues, found that compared with girls, U.S. boys have lower rates of literacy, lower grades and engagement in school and higher drop-out rates. The boys also had dramatically higher rates of suicide, premature death, injuries, and arrests, and were also placed more often in special education.

Girls are more likely to have different problems including depression, suicidal thoughts and eating disorders, Kleinfeld says.

Girls have always done better in school, they do more homework and are better prepared, while more boys tend to dislike school, boys think the teachers -- mostly female -- prefer girls and boys misbehave more, Kleinfeld told United Press International. Girls do better in school because they develop verbal skills so much more easily, while boys recognize spatial differences so much more easily than girls.

Boys need different things in school -- much more activity, less time sitting at a desk and different types of reading -- than girls.

However, all boys need more help in developing writing skills -- by the end of high school, all demographics of boys don't like to write and they don't write very well.