“Locker Room Talk” Still Exists – But Now It’s Becoming Beneficial

So-called “locker room talk” has always had a negative connotation.

It’s typically thought of as remarks made by young men about young women in locker rooms after gym class or practice – and is often sexually-charged and disrespectful in nature.

But now, a new program is being launched to help boys use “locker room talk” for the benefit of helping their female peers.

The program was developed over a decade ago with help from a nonprofit group called Futures Without Violence, which aims to prevent domestic violence against women.

It’s called Coaching Boys Into Men, and is based on the relationship of trust and mentorship that sports coaches often form with the young members of their teams.

The “locker room” culture has been around for decades – from public school gyms to athletics at every level – and many professional athletes have been involved in committing assaults and acts of domestic violence perpetuated by this culture of sexualizing women.

But Coaching Boys Into Men is being hailed as a groundbreaking way to use the close-knit “locker room” bond to encourage a culture of respect and prevention.

And a recent clinical study with UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh says it’s working.  

They’ve found that teen boys are less likely to be abusive, sexually aggressive, or violent toward their female peers, and are more likely to interfere in a situation in which they witness a male peer being disrespectful or violent toward others.

The program has become part of athletics in schools across the state of Pennsylvania, with coaches serving as role models and mentors.

Each week, the coach completes a “training card” with the members of their team, and the program lasts for three months.

Each card focuses on discussion topics about peer pressure, the stereotype of masculinity depending on sexual aggression, and ways to prevent harmful attitudes and behaviors against women.

Boys are also given tactics to use when they see a male peer behaving inappropriately toward a female.

Because male athletes typically have so much respect and trust built with their coach and teammates, the locker room is the perfect forum for these discussions.

In 2018, nearly 300 coaches participated in the program in schools and community centers in Pennsylvania.

The study into its effectiveness followed nearly a thousand students through completion of the program and a year of follow-up.

After completing the program, boys were twice as likely to intervene if they saw disrespectful or inappropriate behavior toward female peers, and a year later, the trend continued.

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These same young men were also more than 75 percent less likely to behave in a sexually aggressive, abusive, disrespectful, or violent manner toward the young women they were dating.

The results of the study were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s January issue of Pediatrics.

Pediatricians, coaches, and psychologists see great promise in Coaching Boys Into Men and hope that it will be more broadly implemented in schools nationwide.

Some are even hoping that school boards will make the program mandatory for public school athletic programs.

This study proves that violence and disrespect can be prevented and that peer relationships and mentorship from a trusted adult can make all the difference.

What do you think about the Coaching Boys Into Men program?  Do you think it should be implemented in schools nationwide?  Leave us your thoughts.