The Crisis of Connection for Adolescent Boys: A TAG Talk
Dr. Niobe Way
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Adolescent Health, in collaboration with the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs and New York University Professor of Developmental Psychology Niobe Way developed a video and two discussion guides about the crisis of connection, its impact on the health and well-being of adolescent boys, and the implications for supporting teens.
After conducting hundreds of interviews focused on friendships with black, Latino, white, and Asian American adolescent boys over the past 25 years, Dr. Way concludes that boys are experiencing a “crisis of connection.” Boys report feeling pressure to “man up” and fear that having or even expressing their desires for close male friendships will make them look “girly” or “gay.” Boys, in early and middle adolescence, often have intimate male friendships and explicitly link these relationships to their mental health. Yet, by late adolescence, boys speak about losing these close male friendships and reveal feelings of loneliness and isolation. Given the research that links friendships with mental and physical health and well-being, Way’s research has profound implications for adults who work with adolescents. Way shows us the dangers of assuming that boys don’t want or need close male friendships and urges us to foster the positive friendships of adolescent boys to help them thrive.
The video, The Crisis of Connection for Adolescent Boys: A TAG Talk, can be viewed in one full-length format as well as broken out into five segments (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) for viewing individually or as a group. Two accompanying discussion guides — one for professionals (PDF, 2 pages) and one for families (PDF, 2 pages) — can be used in a variety of settings, including staff meetings, conference sessions, or trainings, and instructions for preparation and facilitation are provided.
Watch the full-length video:
Watch Segment 1: The crisis of connection for adolescent boys
Watch Segment 2: Why social connectedness is important for adolescent boys
Watch Segment 3: What causes the crisis of connection for adolescent boys
Watch Segment 4: Strategies to address the crisis of connection for adolescent boys
Watch Segment 5: Questions and answers
Click here to download the guide for families (PDF, 2 pages)
Click here to download the guide for professionals (PDF, 2 pages)
Click here to download additional resources (PDF, 1 page)
Click here to download Dr. Way's biography (PDF, 1 page)
Click here to download citations from the video (PDF, 1 page)