Me Too: The Next Step, Part 2

The Me Too movement has dominated headlines for a majority of the past six months. But how do we move forward? What change is needed?

In part two of our series, “Me Too the Next Step”, we talk about the importance of educating young men and how their actions can help change things for the better.
“I believe what’s going on right now is so important to our culture. We all need to be understanding how important it is respect other people,” said Dr. Kathy Seifert, a psychologist.

As simple as it sounds, respect may be one of the answers to making sure no woman has to say “Me too” again.

“That is the key thing that we teach is respect because I feel it starts and ends with that,” said McCoy Curtis, director of the Garland Hayward Youth Center in Princess Anne.

Tucked away off Hampden Avenue in Princess Anne, is the Garland Hayward Youth Center. It’s there, at roughly 6 PM every Tuesday, you’ll find this group of young men.

Under the leadership of McCoy Curtis, the group called the Young Men of Distinction is learning that respect. Albeit not directly so they can learn how to treat women, but as a positive side effect it’s something they learn none the less.

“It’s about reinforcing what their parents are teaching them, about how treat other people. And it’s about teaching them the basics of what respect and love are, so that when they get older and they begin to have those types of interactions that we’re seeing on the news. Then they’ll know how to treat themselves, they’ll know how to treat others because they have that foundation because they have that foundation,” said Curtis.

What Curtis is doing with these kids, may be exactly what’s needed.

“Who is telling these young boys what it is okay and what is not okay, in terms of how they treat women,” said Seifert.

Dr. Kathy Seifert, a psychologist and CEO of Eastern Shore Psychological Services, believes that if young boys are shown the right way to act and are have continuous positive reinforcement that they won’t grow up to become the type of men we’ve seen in the headlines, the Harvey Weinsteins and the Matt Lauers of the world.

“That early exposure to relationships and respect will dictate how that child sees respecting and interacting with other people,” she said.

From sitting and studying the group in Princess Anne, it’s evident that positive reinforcement is happening, from the way Curtis has observed the young boys in the program interact with the young women during the after school program that happens right before they meet.

“If there’s anything that they do that I feel is out of bounds towards someone, I first ask them, ‘How would you feel number one, if someone did that to you? Also as a guy, how would you feel if somebody treated your sister that way or your mother?’ And helping them to think outside of their feelings and how they may have caused someone to feel with their actions or with their words … The first thing that they do is you can see them break and it’s like, ‘I wouldn’t want anybody to treat my sister that way,'” said Curtis.

From talking to the young men themselves it’s evident they’re getting the message too

Jerome Jackson, an 8-year-old who attends the youth center, said, “Respect is important in your life and you need to respect your  parents and not just your parents, but your teachers and other people in your life.”

Malik Morris, a 12-year-old who attends the youth center, said, “You have to be kind to other people, you can’t lie to other people, you have to be friendly and you have to have a good honesty.”

“You need to have good manners to have a good life, so if you’re just bossing people around and saying things you’re not supposed to, people aren’t going to think much of you  they’re just going to think nothing of you,” said Jackson.

The added component to this is accountability. Those like Dr. Kathy Seifert and McCoy Curtis say men need to learn how to call one another out when they step out of line. But it’s not just young boys we need to talk to in order make this better, its young women as well. Thursday night, in our third and final part of the series, we’ll show you how moms are talking about the Me Too movement with their daughters.

Categories: Local News, Maryland