A ground-breaking framework to help boys learn healthy behaviours and develop a positive approach to masculinity was unveiled publicly for the first time this week.
The positive masculinity model was developed by Associate Professor Simon Rice, Orygen’s Lead, Young men’s mental health work stream, with Melbourne’s Brighton Grammar School.
Named +M, the educational framework began rolling out at the school this year with the aim of freeing boys from harmful gender stereotypes.
It was introduced at an online public event this week, with Associate Professor Rice joined by a panel of local and international education and mental health experts.
The panellists discussed key aspects of positive masculinity as well as provided strategies for redirecting boys’ negative emotions and teaching them about rules and boundaries for healthy and respectful relationships.
Associate Professor Rice’s team developed +M in partnership with Dr Ray Swann, Brighton Grammar School’s deputy headmaster and head of the Crowther Centre, the school’s research arm.
They began working together in 2014 after identifying the need for an evidence-based framework to assist schools in promoting positive masculinity to male students.
The +M model is based on the pair’s research which shows that gender-neutral approaches do not always meet the unique health needs of young men.
+M focuses on three pillars, where boys and young men are:
- Connected - building respectful and healthy social relationships marked by open communication and empathy;
- Motivated - driven to continually want to grow and develop while contributing positively to society;
- Authentic - acting in compassionate ways to both themselves and others.
Associate Professor Rice said positive masculinity was the opposite of what’s known as toxic masculinity.
“We can see that in boys and men there are higher rates of aggression, violence, suicide and poorer school engagement. What society has been doing is not working. We need a new approach – and that’s where positive masculinity comes in.
“The +M model is about providing a roadmap for boys, helping them to learn healthy behaviours early and supporting them to develop into good men.”
Dr Ray Swann said the model is already showing positive outcomes for the students at Brighton Grammar School, and there are plans to roll it out to other schools in future.
“While it’s in its early stages, we are seeing evidence of changes to how our boys connect and communicate. Our school captain talks about kindness, in dealing with grief our boys sit in circles and listen, and in competition there is still a place for vulnerability.”
If you missed out on the +M: Introducing Positive Masculinity webinar, you can view it here.