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Younger adolescent boys (10 to 14 years of age)

Last edited: October 30, 2010

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Why is it important to work with younger boys?

Patterns of behaviour may not yet be fully established, which creates a critical opportunity to promote positive social interactions and healthy relationships.

At this age boys and girls may be more easily reached, for example through schools.

In general experts consider that this age group is especially strategic to work with to advance gender equality and non-violence.

Lessons learned about working with younger boys

There is still a lot to be learned about how best to reach younger boys

In spite of the existence of some interventions for this age group, this is a challenging age to work with and it may not be appropriate to use materials developed for older boys and adolescents. Research with this age group is also difficult for a variety of reasons, including the challenge of getting approval to work with younger adolescents. Consequently, there is a lot that is still unclear about how to approach this age group for activities around violence prevention.

It is important to work with boys and girls who witnessed or experienced violence at home

Children whose mothers experience physical or sexual violence may be at increased risk of physical, emotional and behavioural problems, either because the stress of witnessing violence produces negative mental health effects; because their mothers may be less able to care for them; or because they too experience abuse (Heise et al., 2002). There is some evidence that initiatives targeting children and adolescents who have been exposed to family violence can reduce incidents of physical and emotional abuse; however, it is not known whether these programmes can reduce intimate partner violence and sexual violence by or against the child participant later in life.

Promising interventions with younger boys:

Men’s Action for Stopping Violence Against Women (MASVAW,India) is a network of over 175 individuals and 100 organizations that work to bring about change within themselves and in other men to raise their voice against traditional patriarchal values and challenge stereotypical notions of what it means to be a man. MASVAW has begun to reach out to junior and primary schools, influencing boys and girls of 8-12 years of age on issues of domestic violence, physical and verbal abuse and unequal division of work between boys/men and girls/women. Teachers introduce students to the issues through games and drama. See available tools and games below.


Tools for working with younger boys

Engaging Boys to Stop Violence: A Step-by-Step Guide for Initiating Social Change (Save the Children, 2010).  Available in English.

For the End of Sexual Exploitation – What Can Men Do? A Manual for Sensitizing Adolescents Between 10 and 14 Years of Age ( Instituto Promundo,Brazil ) This manual is directed at educational professionals who work with this specific population group and provides concrete tools to work with boys in an effort to prevent their future involvement in the sexual exploitation of children and adolescents.  The manuals are available in Spanish and Portuguese.

White Ribbon Campaign in a Box includes fully interactive exercises designed to help teach and promote healthy, equal relationships among boys and girls. It is available in version for middle or junior and secondary schools. The kit includes:

  • In class exercises that promote healthy relationships and gender equality.
  • A social norms exercise that provides accurate information between real and perceived group attitudes and behaviour towards gender equality, healthy relationships and violence against women.
  • Facilitation notes and backgrounders for teachers on how to teach on the issues of violence against women.
  • A specially designed approach that speaks to boys and young men on their role to end violence against women.
  • Suggested activities and action for planning White Ribbon Days in school communities.

The kit is available for purchase in English and French from the website.

Snakes and Ladders/Saanp-Sidi, (MASVAW, India ). This is a variation of the traditional snakes and ladders board game. In an easy and entertaining way, it breaks the stiffness surrounding issues of gender and violence in the most subtle ways. It is available in different sizes, such as 16 feet and as a board game. The tool especially targets boys and young men, although it is very popular with all age groups. The game board is available in English and Hindi.

‘Umang’ (Enthusiasm, Joyous Energy) Exercise Book (MASVAW, India ). With MASVAW’s work expanding to a younger age group, the need to have specific material sensitive to children’s growing sensibilities was required. Umang, an exercise book, uses different activities, to introduce the concept of gender equality in an engaging manner. Teachers are encouraged to facilitate this in the classrooms.  The tool especially targets children 8-12 years old. Available in Hindi. website (Government of Ontario,Canada ). The goal of this site is to help educate youth aged 8 to 14 about healthy relationships through interactive scenarios and quizzes that help kids learn the importance of respecting themselves and others, as well as ways in which they can stand up for their friends in various situations. Available in English and French.

RePlay Video Games ( Metrac,Canada ) teach youth aged 8 to 14 years old how to challenge behaviours and attitudes as part of this online game about healthy relationships based on equality and respect. Resource booklets for youth, educators and parents accompany the video games. More details are available at These materials were developed with guidance from the Ontario Teachers’ Federation.  The Materials are available in English and French. 

Breakaway (Champlain University, Population Media Center and UNFPA) is a web-based football video game aiming to develop intrapersonal skills related to gender equality and violence. Through the game, the player encounters real life situations that young people experience, such as peer pressure, competition, collaboration, teamwork, bullying and negative gender stereotypes. The game offers the player opportunities to make decisions, face consequences, reflect, and practice behaviors in a game and story format. Available in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish. website, Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children (Ontario, Canada) provides a comprehensive list of resources that promote healthy, equal relationships, reviewed and critiqued using a strengths-based model and matched to grade levels three to nine and the Ontario curriculum. A pedagogical review will help educators choose resources for their own teaching style. Available in English.

Roots of Equality (Springtide Resources and The Elementary Teacher's Federation of Ontario, Canada) was developed in partnership with the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario Teacher and includes workshops, interactive resource materials, and opportunities for youth to produce their own resources as part of comprehensive kit to promote respectful, healthy, equal relationships in grades three to five. The kit also has resources to be used at conferences for girls, tip sheets in multiple languages and curriculum materials. For additional information and resources see the website.