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Disrespect for elders among youths: Where did we get it wrong?



Every society is built on certain values. In Africa, respect for elders is among the core cultural values. This respect is expected to flow from the younger person to the elderly, whether they have family ties or not. In many instances it does not attract reciprocity.

However, as societies evolve, certain phenomenal changes take place, with culture having taken a hit in recent years.

Many analysts say that the growing rate of disrespect among the youth has become a threat to this critical pillar upon which African societies is built a development they said, if not addressed may give rise to future adults lacking in self-respect and respect for others.

“Youth are the leaders of tomorrow. Parents and guardians should prioritise inculcating good more values in their children.

“The society too have a major role to play in curving the act of disrespect among Nigerian youths,’’ a parent Mr Christopher Ewalefo said.

Prof. Albert Bandura, a Canadian-American psychologist at Stanford University, in his social learning theory, argues that today’s societies curiously appreciate abnormality and have no negative reward for it.

He postulated that as children grow to adolescent and to other stages of growth in their lives they become aware of the attitude of the people in the societies such as what the environments appreciate and what they frown at.

According to him, a society where immorality and indiscipline are celebrated most likely will produce immoral and undisciplined young people.

Mrs Blessing Shaka, a sociologist and a civil servant said because values can be transmitted from generation to generation it is important that parents are conscious of how they raise their children and wards.

Dr Kingsley Ehimuan, a lecturer in Ambrose Alli University in Edo, opined that many youths of nowadays are disrespectful to their seniors as they find it difficult to even, greet their elders as a sign of respect.

He said it is unfortunate that they don’t allow elders to guide and advise them neither do they take advice or instructions from their elders.

Ehimuan blamed some parents for the disrespectful behavior among young people because they have failed to inculcate good moral values in them.

“ I remember how my mother will beat me and my siblings for not greeting our elders or when we are reported to our parent for misbehaving in public. In some cases the offended elderly person will even beat before reporting us to our parents”, he said.

Ehimuan also said that in some instances, some parents go to the extent of fighting teachers whenever their children are being punished for wrong doing at school. He said that such acts create the impression that the offending student is above the law.

According to him another disturbing trend, is when youths worship or give respects to only who they consider affluent or influential.

“So many youths disregard elders or their seniors who are not rich or can be directly influential to their future such as helping them to secure jobs.

“When youths are disrespectful they become difficulty to control, advice or guide. Such a trend can increase crime rate in the society”, Ehimuan said.

Ehimuan called on government, parents and NGOs to help in correcting this anomaly through education by introducing subject such as cultural and moral studies in our primary and secondary schools.

Dr David Oamen, a lecturer in Ambrose Alli University, Edo, said disrespect among youths is as a result of emulating social trends which he or she read or watch on television.

Some of the trends, he said are keeping bushy hair, wearing clothes riddled with holes, fighting in public places, sagging of trousers and piercing of body parts.

Oamen said some of the disrespectful youths lack home training as parents serves as role model to their children.

“Respect begins at home. If you respect your parents it becomes natural for you to respect others in public” he said.

Oamen said many educational institutions have also failed in their responsibility to instill respect for older persons in young people.

“We have an educational environment where discipline has been ignored because teachers are scared of meting out punishment as result of fear of the aftermath of such action as losing their jobs or falling out with the school authorities.

“Respectful conduct should be a norm in the society. It advances co-existence between the elders and the young “he said.

Miss Deborah Adeniyi, a student of Ado-Ekiti Federal Polytechnic, blamed some parents for lack of respect among youths because they do not discipline their children and wards when they misbehave or speak rudely to them at home.

“Even the Bible says train a child in the way he should go so that when he is old he will not depart from it. So, parents should always have this sacred injunction in mind” she said.

Adeniyi also identified peer influence as a major factor in disrespectful behaviour among youths and advised parents to guide their children on the kind of friends they keep.

Mr Gabriel Aninkwo, a businessman, said many youths, because of their exposure to the internet and education are arrogant and claim to be more intelligent than adults. He said it is difficult to correct young people with such mindset.

Prof. Omorobe Steven, a sociology lecturer at Ambrose Alli University Edo State, said youthful exuberance could make youths disrespect their elders.

He said it is an abnormal behavior, which is a departure from African values and norms.

According to Omorobe, this deviant behaviour occur in societies that can no longer provide the required moral directions for their members.

“In a society where values and norms are not solid the youths become frustrated and disenchanted, behaving the way they like.

According to Omorogbe this is in line with societal realities where individuals learn from cultures which in turn shape our behaviours.

Omorogbe advised parents to emulate other parents who are strict in training their children to be responsible adults, adding that where the children are deviating it is the responsibility of parents to redirect them to the right path.

As the society confronts the reality of concern over the behaviour of many youths, it is imperative that relevant stakeholders such as governments, parents, guardians and teachers should continue to strive towards inculcating the right moral values in the leaders of tomorrow.


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