Welcome to the Rites of Passage Social Movement!
Our Rites of Passage project offers free toolkits for parents, high schools, colleges, community groups, therapists and others!
If we do not initiate the young they will burn down the village to feel the heat.
– African Proverb
The villages are burning. Worldwide. An estimated $500 billion is spent yearly on teen dysfunctions in the U.S. alone: drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy and STDs, school dropouts and expulsions, gang and property crimes, traffic accidents, ADD, ADHD, depression and violence…
Culturally appropriate rites of passage and mentorship programs help solve these problems. It just might be the silver bullet for youth development. Our Rites of Passage film tells an inspirational story showing people exactly why ritually guided rites of passage and mentorship are necessary for all young people. It also offers the launching pad for a social movement that begins right when the lights come up for communities’ to begin co-creating programs for their own youth right then and there.
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” Pablo Picasso
- The Social Movement
- Sign the Statement of Support
- The Long Film
- The Problem
- The Solution
- Questions and Answers
View Statement of Support for Rights of Passage Film With Signatures
Add your organization’s signatories to the list.
Rites of Passage – Mentoring the Future (working title) will be a 90 minute feature length documentary that will do for rites of passage what Inconvenient Truth did for global warming – bring it out of the underground into the mainstream.
See our Rites of Passage Press Kit.
For more inf rites of passage, watch this video of Joseph Campbell speaking to the significance of initiation rituals.
It takes a village to raise a child.
– African Proverb
An estimated $500 billion is spent yearly on teen dysfunctions: drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy and STDs, school dropouts and expulsions, gang and property crimes, traffic accidents, ADD, ADHD, depression and violence…
Why do teens do this? Is it because they’re inherently bad? Does adolescence make them bad? No. It’s because they’re unconsciously pushing up against the confines of their own bodies, the rules of parents and society, and the capacity of their own minds and willpower to discover the true limits of their potential. It’s because they need to be initiated into adulthood.
Initiation: A ceremony, ritual, test, or period of instruction with which a new member is admitted to an organization or office or to knowledge.
– American Heritage Dictionary
Indigenous cultures worldwide used to recognize “acting out” as the early warning signs that a teen’s time had come. It was the moment for the elders to gather and, if need be, rip the boys away from their mothers’ arms to take them into the bush, the woods, the desert, the prairie, or the jungle, to teach them how to be men.
Girls, usually after their first menstruation, would be sequestered sometimes for days alone with the “crones” and taught how to be women.
The rights and responsibilities of adulthood were revealed to the young people through culturally appropriate trials and mentorship, ushering them across the threshold of childhood to the promised land of maturity. The stakes were high. The elders knew the young people would remain as suspended adolescents indefinitely if they weren’t initiated.
Across the planet, most of these links in the generational chain are now broken. But not all. Some of the old ways have survived. And new forms of mentoring and initiation are springing up every day that are culturally appropriate to our modern age.
Although ‘it takes a whole village to raise a child,’ it takes the struggles of youth to raise a village.
– Michael Meade
This game-changing film will not be dependent on traditional forms of commercial distribution to reach its audience and deliver a profound social impact. Rites of Passage organizations worldwide, schools both public and private, youth development organizations like Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Boy Scouts, YMCAs, Boys & Girls Clubs and many more, will be outreach partners. Every outreach screening will be followed by a facilitated discussion motivating people right then and there to co-create rites of passage for their own young people in their community, transforming each audience into activated citizenry. The goal of the film is nothing less than seeing every teen on the planet initiated.
Why am I making the film?
I want to do my part for happier children and stronger families before I leave this life.
I was born to make this film… more than Hoop Dreams, more than a film about my own family, more than any of my previous work.
It’s easy to say that I myself was a troubled teen, unconsciously desperate for male mentors and for initiation, searching for answers in drugs and alcohol and reckless behavior. It’s certainly all true. But it’s just as true to say that I’m a man who never has fathered children so I want to do my part for happier children and stronger families before I leave this life. I want to lay down the fathering energy I carry in a good way where it can be of good use.
I am making this film to inform parents, teachers, coaches, counselors, politicians, lay people — about rites of passage (ROP) programs and the meaningful and positive impact they have on young people, their families, and their communities. I hope people will use my film to help them differentiate healthy rites of passage programs from neutral or unproductive ones. My goal is not to please experts or influence anthropologists or sociologists, it’s to help schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, YMCAs, 4H, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Outward Bound, etc. to better serve their clients and to clarify the importance of positive rites of passage and mentorship programs in the everyday lives of youth everywhere.
What is initiation?
We use the terms “initiation”, “rites of passage” or “rite of passage” interchangeably.
“A modern day rite of passage is achieved when parents and the community create and participate in experiences that are perceived to be transformative by youth and, in fact, offer them increased status within the community and facilitate their healthy transition through adolescence. Equally important, the celebration of a rite of passage is renewing for the entire community. A youth’s public expression of and commitment to a community’s values and beliefs reinforces expectations for behaviors for the entire community. A child’s coming of age presents an opportunity for the whole community to examine, adapt and re-commit themselves to their social and cultural heritage.”
– David Blumenkrantz, Ph.D.
We feel strongly that rites of passage and mentorship are two halves of one whole – both essential to the healthy development of youth, and, by extension, to the well being of families and communities.
Dr. Blumenkrantz has also written a very helpful list establishing “20 Elements in an Architectural Structure for Youth & Community Development through Rites of Passage.”
His colleague Bret Stephenson has written a very helpful overview article on ROP for lay people.
What are healthy rites of passage?
Healthy rites of passage are different from events we commonly call rites of passage that carry no transformational impact (neutral events).
Examples of neutral events:
- Voting for the first time
- Getting a Driver’s License
- Turning 18 or 21
- Joining the Military
- Taking that first drink
- Getting that first job or paycheck
- Having sex for the first time
- Getting tattoos or piercings
Healthy rites of passage are different from unhealthy ones like:
- Fraternity hazing
- Speed drinking and over-drinking
- Hurting or even killing someone
- Committing a first crime
- Street drag racing
Why does initiation and mentoring work?
Rites of passage and mentorship provide youth with enduring human attachments and moral and spiritual meaning to guide their lives.
- A 2003 federal government study by the Commission on Children at Risk learned that youth are “Hardwired to Connect.” “Meeting children’s needs for enduring attachments and for moral and spiritual meaning is the best way to ensure their healthy development.”
- Rites of Passage and Mentorship share similar if not identical objectives. The Search Institute has identified 40 developmental assets that an adolescent requires in order to fully accomplish the transition to young adulthood.
- Though scientific studies substantiating the benefits of rites of passage for youth are only now coming in, according to anthropologists Arnold Van Gennep and Margaret Meade, the practice of initiation for adolescents has continued in most if not all cultures on the planet for over 40,000 years.
To read a wonderful recent study proving the effectiveness of mentoring on youth outcomes click here.
Sign up on our website. Look for checkboxes on our form for the following actions:
- Receive a free copy of Rites of Passage and the curriculum. Check the box.
- Screen Rites of Passage for your school, community group, youth development center, or other and facilitate a discussion. Check the box.
- Send us a project endorsement letter from your organization. View a sample.
- Partner with us to sign up other organizations. Check the box.
- Help us raise funds.Check the box.
Help us reach our fundraising goal!
We’re raising $20,000 by the end of this year to fund the completion and release of a six-minute film that will be given away with toolkits designed for different end users:
- Colleges and Universities
- High schools
- Youth development agencies
- Community groups
- Psychologists, Therapists, Counselors…
We’re also partnering with parents and other community stakeholders to utilize public screenings as opportunities to better access and redesign already existing community ROP and mentorship programs or to start new ones from the ground up.
Want to learn more? Contact our Community Partners Director: [email protected]