I've often thought that in an effort to lower prison population, make a dent in alcohol and substance abuse, reduce the numbers of rape and childhoods abuse, that every child, every year, every day, should take a class at school entitled "Morals and Ethics, What is Right and What is Wrong."
Unfortunately, many children grow up with no knowledge of what is right or wrong. When mommy drinks herself to oblivion every night, when dad beats the kids and cheats on his taxes, when uncle John brags about his time in jail, children receive mixed messages. They can't see through the fog of family dysfunction enough to know how to behave or be a good citizen. They don't learn how to humanely treat themselves, other people or even animals.
Children learn what they experience. When there are no positive role models or good behavior to be found, children grow up imitating their parents, whether bad, ugly or indifferent.
Parochial and Christian schools have always been a huge step ahead, in that they teach kids right from wrong and the Golden Rule. They call those daily classes "Religion", but they are so much more than just learning about God. Students learn that somebody, some Deity actually loves them. They learn how to treat one another. They learn to find value in themselves and learn tools to become caring adults.
Our public schools, our dedicated teachers are horribly overburdened, but I can't help but wonder if one hour a day of morals and ethics would be worth shortening Math and English class. Teachers are already role models just by their daily presence in our children's life. How many of us can easily remember a teacher we idolized or thought highly of, to this day, because of their compassion and wisdom, their humor or the way they helped us?
Don't get me wrong, in a perfect society each parent would instill good and appropriate virtues in their own children. It should not fall onto schools to teach right from wrong....but I truly believe that it is the only possible way that we can change society from the bottom up. In a perfect world kindness and positive role models would abound.
This is nothing but a pipe dream post. I know families who do nothing but repeat cycles of violence, substance abuse and criminality. These children have little hope of ever breaking free.
I know many teachers whom I admire for their patience, knowledge and values. They are all underpaid, overworked and some of the most caring professionals that I have ever met. I have great admiration for teachers. The burden of teaching morals and values should not fall onto their already burgeoning shoulders. It should fall onto parents, extended families, churches and youth groups...in a perfect world.
I am grasping at straws. I see the moral decay. I read about people that think it's okay to lie, cheat, steal, hit, rape because it is all they knew at home.
I fantasize about solutions. I dream that I can make the world, or at least my little corner of it, a better, kinder place.
I know....it's just a dream.
My crazed, optimistic, impossible solution to what plagues us.
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