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Changing behaviours

Geraldine Panapasa
Sunday, June 25, 2017

EVERY so often we hear and read the phrase, "our children are our leaders of tomorrow". And as a family and community, we tend to make it a priority to ensure our children, our leaders of tomorrow, are raised in an environment that would mould them into responsible, respectful and productive citizens of this country.

But what can we make of the future if our young leaders are anything but responsible, respectful and productive citizens? On the front page of yesterday's edition of The Fiji Times, allegations of misconduct and inappropriate behaviour among students of a high school in Nadi are worrisome.

We are told in the article that the students allegedly vandalised teachers' vehicles and wrote abusive, threatening and obscene language after the school principal suggested to parents of underperforming students that it would be in their best interest to pursue further studies in technical or vocational colleges.

Their alleged actions of vandalism and use of abusive, threatening and obscene language towards school faculty should raise some red flags about the deteriorating moral values among our youths. It should serve as a wake-up call not only for the parents and guardians of the students allegedly involved in this incident but the whole community to take a proactive approach to keep our children and youths on the right path in life.

There are times when parents and guardians find it difficult to keep their children and troubled youths in line. When they misbehave at home and end up in school, teachers are tasked with instilling in them some sense of responsibility.

It's true that to address such negative behaviour by these youths, we need to look at the root causes, the family unit, nuclear and extended, the community, the country, international influences and ideologies, their rights and expressions, and its limitations. The reasons behind their behaviour, the reasons they think, act and speak the way they do, against the social norms and values of peace, respect, integrity and love.

Some people will have opinions about the negative actions of youths in society. Some will point the finger at their parents and guardians, or the school system, for neglect or failing to pick up on troubled children and youths while others will blame the students and youths for choosing to behave that way despite the love and support they've been given.

But in these types of situations, showing them love and support is all we can do. Giving them the support and opportunities they need to excel in life, to carve out a bright future, is all we can and should continue to do. Telling them every day that there is more to life than misbehaving, playing truant, being disrespectful and dishonest.

Telling someone you love them every day can make a difference. Paying more attention and giving up a few minutes of your time to sit and listen to your children, to our youths, can make a difference. But at the end of the day, the decision to be a better person, a better student, a better youth, a better leader will fall on our children, our youths and our leaders of tomorrow. We cannot force them to become responsible or to behave better, but we can share with them the consequences of their negative behaviour and what a life of crime can do to hurt their future.

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