What’s up with boys ‘disrespecting’ their female classmates?

Looking beyond the behavior to find solutions to help students treat each other with more respect


Photo by Khoa Võ from Pexels

Aryna V.

It’s no secret. There are boys who disrespect girls in middle school. Will it affect the way that these boys treat women as adults, or will it pass?

Some of the ways that boys mistreat girls right now could be as simple as calling them degrading names, or as extreme as acting and stating things that suggest girls are inferior.

When asked if boys show enough respect, seventh-grader Kendall Huddleston said, “They’re very sexist. It’s always, ’Look at her butt’ or something.” She paused. “It’s dumb.” 

Furthermore, Justin Coulson from Institute for Family Studies wrote, “It is clear that guys feel empowered to whistle, make unsolicited sexual comments, stalk, grope, and more. We still have a long way to go before we have taught our boys to be sufficiently respectful.”

How should this disrespect be addressed, anyway? Well, the men in boys’ lives play an important role in changing how girls are thought of and treated. 

According to an article on Psychology Today, “Adult males need to step in and say, ‘We don’t talk about/treat women like that here.’” Adults should teach boys and guide them on some of the things they see and hear. 

Savannah Butler, eighth grade, believes that the disrespect should be fixed with respect and good manners. They shouldn’t call you ‘’hot’’ or just judge you based on your body.

Alright, the issue should be addressed with the help of men in the boys’ lives. But where do they learn that behavior in the first place? In a lot of places, actually. Social media, music, and TV are just a few. And of course, they learn by how they see other men treat women. 

Ms. Benton, the crisis counselor at ROMS, believes that a lot of the disrespect starts before boys even get to school. “At home. I hate to say it but at home,” she said.

Those were just a few factors that influence boys to treat girls with disrespect. “Some of the boys I talk to I think that if they lose respect for their mothers or their motherly figure, they have a hard time respecting women.” Ms. Benton said.

Well, is the disrespect right now serious, or is it nothing to worry about, not now at least? Some students believe that it is very serious, while others, not so much. 

An eighth-grader, Isaiah Trigo, thinks that it goes both ways. “Sometimes it is serious,” Trigo said. “But most of the time it’s a joke.”

This all boils down to a matter of respect. That, according to some students, is a two-way street. 

“As long as they’re not disrespecting me, they should be respected,” 8th grader Jacob Knowles said.

So, are girls capable of speaking up and defending themselves? The opinions of students on the matter vary. 

6th grader Domynic Brown said that he takes the disrespect seriously. “If boys are being mean to girls, girls can’t do anything about it,” he said.

7th grader, Kendall Huddleston, thinks otherwise.“Every girl should be taught to speak up for herself,” she said. “Girls are very very capable of speaking up.” 

Some girls around the building think that guys don’t treat them with enough respect, including, eighth-grader Savannah Butler. “Every guy that I’ve seen around here only wants girls for their body,” she exclaimed. “There’s not a lot of guys who respect girls.”

All in all, the disrespect is just learned behavior. The way guys treat young women, how they feel empowered to do so. Will the way they act change? Maybe there’s still some hope. 

Kendall Huddleston, mentioned earlier, said, “If they learn that they shouldn’t do it if they realize what they were doing was wrong, then yes, things will definitely change.”