ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The non-profit Safe Connections is mainly focused on domestic violence, but part of its mission is also to help young people develop healthy relationships and advocate against violence toward women and girls.

You hear a lot at the beginning of the 14-week session, from the eighth-graders to high school seniors in the guys group, like women just want money.

“That’s largely due to our culture. A lot of men are in positions of power and they are perpetuating this kind of behavior and telling young men that it’s OK; this is the way to be able to gain power for yourself,” says Michael Gendernalik, prevention educator with Safe Connections.

He says they discuss the question, ‘What is masculinity, and how does it show up in role models, the media and friends and family?’ And to those who say pushing boys to be more empathetic or emotional feminizes them, he says femininity doesn’t have to mean weakness.

“I would definitely challenge them and say, ‘That’s an interesting notion, so why do we think that way?'”

Do the headlines involving allegations of sexual harassment by powerful men like Harvey Weinsteen and the late Fox News CEO Roger Ailes affect the boys? Gendernalik says they do talk about today’s culture.

“It’s hard to tell young men to not act like this when there are people who have made a big living and have a lot of power due to their ability to subvert other folks,” he says.

The guys and girls groups are offered in St. Louis city and county schools, and community locations.

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