A 'crisis of masculinity' reached fever pitch in the British media in the mid 1990's when it was widely reported that female pupils were achieving better school results and outstripping their male counterparts in locating employment in the diminishing youth labour market (Mac an Ghaill, 1994; Connell, 1995). We had a more reserved debate in Ireland at that time but it is now gathering in momentum once again. This paper is written partly as a response to the two papers by Mark Smith (2003) and Mike Burns (2003) published in the last volume of the Relational Journal of Child and Youth Care. We would like to maintain and add to the debate around 'maleness' and 'masculinity ' in child and youth care. The authors are based at the Centre for Child and Youth Care Learning at the Athlone Institute of Technology in Ireland where the debate on men in child and youth care is only emerging (see McElwee, 2001 ; McElwee et aI, 2003; Parslow, in press). Specifically, we are interested in men as potential positive role models to children and youth in our care. We provide some biographical details in order to context this debate in what Garfat has termed the ' relational male discourse' (Garfat, in press).

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