High School 19/8/22: Is respect on the decline?

This term in Pastoral Care Groups we are focusing on the attribute of ‘Serve and lead for the benefit of others’. This attribute is linked to another one of our attributes, ‘Show Respect and compassion’. In the groups we are looking at how to help support others via the RUOK Day? and the Butterfly Foundation – ‘Body Kind’ campaign. Respect plays a key part in all these areas of life. Respect is the act of valuing and having regard for others despite our differences. It is the glue that holds individual relationships and civil societies together, so I think it is something that we need to be actively and purposefully teaching and modelling to young people.

It sometimes appears that respect is in generational decline. We see the nastiness of people on social media, lack of respect for authority, general selfishness, and despair at the lack of respect in our society. Socrates in 500BC made the following observation: “Youth today love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority, no respect for older people, and talk nonsense when they should be working. Young people do not stand up any longer when adults enter the room. They contradict their parents, talk too much in company, guzzle their food, lay their legs on the table and tyrannise their elders”.

The natural conclusion in reading this quote is perhaps that we need to recognise that “youth will always be youth”. This is certainly true, the human nature of people isn’t really changing as we become more advanced and knowledgeable. In fact, I have recently seen more evidence of disrespect in those that consider themselves progressive and enlightened. The bible tells us that our character is naturally flawed by sin.

I don’t think Socrates’ quote should give us license to relax, after all, Socrates may have been living at a particularly unpleasant time. There is a tendency to relax when things are going good, and forget the hard work of teaching and training that enabled peace, civility and respect. It may be that Socrates’ writings prompted a renewed focus on training young people in respectful behaviour. The point that I want to make is that the work of teaching and training young people in the most basic values of respect, will never end. It can be hard work, and is mostly not appreciated by the young person, but in the end it’s worth the effort. When we relax and don’t work at it, there will be a natural decline as people live to suit themselves and put themselves first.

Scriptures encourage us to “consider others better than ourselves” and to “love your neighbour as yourself”. At William Carey we’re thankful for the opportunity to work with families and students in developing character. My hope is that together we’ll help students to develop a love, care and respect for all, which is a blessing to those that they come in contact with. In my next article we will look at helping teenagers to have respectful relationships.

God Bless, 
Mr Anthony Hudson
High School Deputy Principal

R U OK? Day

8th September 2022
It’s our national day of action when we remind Australians that every day is the day to  ask, ‘are you OK?’ and start a meaningful conversation whenever they spot the signs that someone they care about might be struggling with life.

Body Kind - Butterfly Foundation

4th – 11th September 2022
Body Kind Schools is Australia’s largest annual positive body image movement for young people providing free and engaging activities to help young Australians find ways to be kind to their own body and to others.