Don't push responsibility of teaching values to schools

As a youth practitioner in character and leadership education for the past 10 years, I have spoken to over 20,000 young people and handled quite a number of disciplinary cases ("Time for corporal punishment in schools?" by Mr Lawrence Loh Kiah Muan; last Tuesday).

Most of these troubled young people come from dysfunctional families or have parents who are too busy for them.

A common response from parents regarding their children's misbehaviour is that they expect character building and values to be imparted by school educators, and blame the schools for their children's actions. They are pushing the responsibility to educators without realising that they are the main reason for their children's misbehaviour.

The schools' primary responsibility is to teach skills and knowledge to children, while character and values should be taught by parents at home.

Currently, we are doing the opposite. We are sending our children to school for holistic development and character building, expecting teachers to mould them into well-behaved people. At home, we are hiring tutors to teach them the skills and knowledge that should have been taught in school.

Character and values are not taught but caught. Every child is a reflection of his parents. Over time, young people will mirror both positive and negative characteristics of their parents.

Parents must spend time with their children and be good role models. Affirm the children's positive actions and share your setbacks and life experiences with them, because your children really want to hear from you. Stop pushing the responsibility of teaching values to the schools and start taking ownership of your children's future.

Letter by Delane Lim

This article was published on May 13 in The Straits Times.

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