It was one of those terrible headlines you didn’t want to click on:
“Teens filmed, mocked man as he drowned, police say”
Jamel Dunn, 32, drowned on July 9th off the coast of Cocoa, Florida, while several teenaged boys looked on. Mr. Dunn was disabled, and at no point did the teenagers even try calling for help. Authorities who subsequently interviewed the boys reported that it seemed they didn’t have any regret over their behavior.
It’s hard to fathom how hard the hearts of these boys must be to watch a man die and do nothing to help him.
USA Today ran a piece on the story highlighting the fact that what happened in Florida is part of a larger trend of people posting their bad behavior online.
It seems that this is starting a domino effect. Young people are watching more and more of these videos, as they also consume violent video games, movies and news stories – and the result is they are becoming desensitized to the bad things that happen in the world.
Some are suggesting this trend demonstrates the need for parents to limit and monitor their children’s screen time.
But it goes well beyond that.
It’s also a stark reminder that people are sinful and that it’s up to us parents to teach our children values, kindness and basic human decency.
And for us men, it’s also a reminder that we need to be intentional about teaching boys to be men.
My colleague Glenn Stanton likes to say that “men are made.” In other words, boys don’t naturally grow up to be men – manhood must be cultivated.
Boys look up to men, and want to be men – but they soon realize that manhood must be earned.
That’s what secular anthropologists have learned as they’ve observed across different people groups and across generations. Time and time again, throughout the world and throughout history, anthropologists have seen how the men of a variety of different cultures are “selfless to the point of sacrifice.”
And real men – or boys who aspired to be men – would have helped that drowning victim.
That’s something those teenage boys should have known. But it takes men to make men. And, due to rampant fatherlessness, indifference and a host of other reasons, too many boys are lacking good men to emulate.
And like I talked about in my book “The Good Dad,” our kids don’t ask for perfection. They’re asking for our presence — to show up for the job each and every day to be there for them, to guide them, to hug them. And our sons need us to teach them what it means to be a man.
What does that look like? I invite you to check out Glenn Stanton’s excellent piece on the essential qualities of manhood. It’s insightful and practical.
What did your father teach you? I invite you to use the space below to pay tribute to him and encourage other men in our audience to invest their time to help others.
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