What's Happened to Respect?

Since we’re on the subject of respect, are you getting any lately? Are you getting the respect you deserve? The kind of consideration and esteem you’re entitled too?  From your kids, workmates your significant other? Probably not, especially from kids and teens. Today’s youth are disrespectful, just ask any middle school or high school teacher, they’ll tell you. Even many young adults, those spoiled twenty-somethings who think the world owes them a living, they don’t know jack about respect.

20101031_120722_103110_keithallyn_500-266x300The youth of today have not been reared the same way that we were. In many homes there is only a single parent doing the work of two, and even in homes with both parents present  there is a growing lack of adult authority, just to keep the peace, parents give in to their children’s demands and in no time at all they’ve lost control of the situation to their children. The result is more aggressive behavior at home, in the streets, and in schools. Making the job of parents and teachers even harder.

Our generation was taught from an early age to respect others, it was automatic. We learned to  respected policemen, firemen, repairmen, teachers, the butcher, grocer and gas station attendant. We respected adults, and if we didn’t we were disciplined. Today’s youth believe grown-ups must earn their respect. They have this “you get what you give” ideal which of itself is not a bad philosophy for motivation, you get only what you put into things, work, relationships happiness etc, but today kids have taken it to new heights, basically they’re saying “you disrespect me and I’ll disrespect you. You treat me right, show me that you respect me and in turn I’ll respect you.”

So who’s at fault here, parents, teachers, the kids themselves, society at large, technology, music? There are so many possible causes, and all of those mentioned play into it, but the real culprit here is a lack of authority exercised by first -parents, then by teachers. Children need guidelines, they need rules and most importantly they need to have them enforced and when rules are broken there has to be consequences. Children must learn to respect authority because they are the authorities and not because they have bartered or compromised with them and earned their respect. Respect for authority is essential in the health development of our children.

So many of today’s youth are accustomed to having their demands met by their parents and others in authority, this makes them unprepared for the realities of adult life. And it starts at a young age. I’m sure you’ve witnessed a tantrum or two at Target or some other store. A screaming kid kicking and bucking because he’s not getting what he wants, causing a real scene. Back in the day that kid would have got a few whacks across the butt right there or hauled outside for a spanking. Today the parent usually gives in just to quiet the kid down and so it begins.

17143aIn school its the same thing, teachers have become much too tolerant of disruptive classroom behavior simply to avoid confrontation that will take away from instruction time. When I was in school you could be disciplined severely for classroom disruptions. Remember the good old ‘board of education.’ The type that hung in several of our classrooms was a wooden paddle with holes drilled in it. I never experienced it personally, but I came close and I knew only a few students who ever got a taste of it. It was actually more of a deterrent than  anything else. Just seeing it hanging on the wall behind the teacher and knowing he could use it reduced classroom discipline problems, oh yeah it did!

In 1986 California banned corporal punishment. Since then several  alternate discipline methods and techniques have become quite popular. But what works for one teacher may not work as well or at all for another. A teacher has to take the time to establish there classroom management and get to know the students, however with the push to raise state test scores and met subject standards requirements teachers have little time to establish discipline plans or get to know their students.

When I taught my number one classroom rule was ‘respect’. I operated under the ‘firm but fair’ principle and it worked well for me. I had very few discipline problems in my ten years of teaching. Some have told me I was lucky, but it was more than that. If you develop a safe atmosphere of mutual respect you alleviate many of your discipline problems. I’m not an advocate of corporal punishment which was banned in California schools in 1986, but I do remember the threat of being paddled made the classroom a much better place. 23 states still use corporal punishment today so I suppose an argument could be made to support it. Something is definitely needed.

I  still believe learning the meaning of respect and responsibility begins in the home. I’m so tired of parents saying they don’t know what to do or that they’re afraid of their child. I recently made a call home to find out why one of my 15 year old 10th graders wasn’t coming to school mom told me that her daughter refuses to go and she can’t make her. So mom goes to work and the kid stays home all day and that’s it, mom told her to go, her job is done. This kid has no respect for her mom or for authority. There are thousands more like her out there.

What’s wrong with this picture? What’s wrong with these parents? Parents must take back the reigns from their children, assume their responsibilities, impose rules and consequences and stick with them. If things don’t change soon the results will be devastating and felt all across society from homes to the schools, from the streets to the the workplace, to the unemployment line, courts, jails and prisons. We need to change things now before it’s too late. These kids are the future!

Just Saying,



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