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Values taught early matter

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Victor Scott Primary School, Al Seymour’s old stamping ground in the 1940s when it was known as Central School (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Societies around the world, including Bermuda, are engaged in a struggle to promote values such as honesty, decency, truth and dignity in the face of distractions on a scale never experienced before.

As if that was not enough, along came a global pandemic, which made what was already a major challenge in trying to raise a family, a monumental task. Forced restrictions on social activities have had a significant impact not only on family life, but also in the workplace.

Violence and criminal activity are nothing new in any society, although the extent varies according to population size. Despite this, there will always be those striving to teach their children proper values; hopefully, to enable them be able to teach their own children that having good values is the way to build a better world, where people of all ethnic or racial backgrounds can live as one people.

While that has the tone of wishful thinking in a world with such confusion and mistrust over highly questionable leadership in powerful nations, it is still a crucial factor because when proper values are not taught early, the potential is very much alive for a young mind to drift in the wrong direction.

In our small society, which has toiled through social challenges for many decades, it may not be a bad idea to pause and reflect on how, despite institutional social hurdles, many of our seniors especially in the black community knew a positive attitude with good values would always be the key to moving the country to a place of justice and peace for all. They also knew it would not be easy because deeply embedded negative attitudes are not removed overnight.

I recall as a boy in the early 1940s how many adults who had worked hard all week had no hesitation in giving of their time on Sunday afternoons to help young people to stay focused on good qualities — chief among them was spiritual strength.

Sunday school, which was more prevalent in those days, also was a source of support for parents and guardians during difficult times. Apart from social injustice, a the Second World War was raging, which impacted life around the world, including Bermuda.

It was a challenging time for parents because, unlike today with an almost limitless range of devices for entertainment, back then many homes were without electricity, radios or telephones, and keeping order required a discipline seldom seen these days.

A very important factor here is that most adults knew a child allowed to breach rules designed to teach the importance of good values was at greater risk for getting into mischief. During that period, many adults were surrogate parents, and when a child stepped out of line with behaviour, in most cases the actual parent welcomed that support.

It was no different at school. At Central School, now Victor Scott Primary School, discipline was the order of the day — and just about student of that period could testify to having a taste of correction that left you with some very uncomfortable moments for breaching rules.

No society is perfect, and no one is perfect, but striving for higher standards in our world remains a great challenge and children still require close attention and guidance early in life in order for positive seeds to leave little room for negativity.

Children are the future, and every young mind is precious, because no one can pass on something they do not have. We have issues in our society that are not in keeping with values needed to make Bermuda a more productive and safe place.

There are no easy solutions to complex issues that have been problems for years. However, in saving as many young minds as possible through a more bipartisan approach, it just may be possible to provide future generations with a Bermuda that, while not perfect, will be a better place because we focused as a priority on saving young minds.

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Published October 31, 2020 at 12:00 pm (Updated October 30, 2020 at 7:42 pm)

Values taught early matter

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