Declining family values are major challenge
These days we hear so much about the need for more jobs and greater opportunity for economic growth as key elements if Bermuda is to make further progress as a society in a world of rapidly changing perceptions. But if we pause and take a closer look at what is happening in community life, we might detect signs that family values are deteriorating at an alarming rate and that too many young minds are being lost to the onslaught of negative trends that chip away at our core values.
The strength of the family in any society is the equivalent of the essential parts that keep an engine running, whether the parts are on an aircraft, ship or in the family car. Whenever people travel, they rely on machines they hope to be in excellent working order. In modern parts of the world, the travel business is a significant part of economic growth, and there is constant maintenance to ensure that the highest standards are in place for those using public transportation.
Away from the public eye is that engineer who spots a piece of equipment developing a flaw and corrects the problem before it leads to a malfunction. If only that attention could be applied in areas of the family unit, where some problems are extremely difficult to detect until it is too late. Many countries are experiencing criminal gang activity that threatens community life, and despite numerous projects aimed at stamping it out, this type of dangerous criminality continues. Even here in our lovely Bermuda, the death toll over the years stemming from gang activity has left a stain that is far from easy to erase. No amount of money will solve it, and even with full employment, when values such as honesty and decency crumble, it usually can be traced to early experiences in the home. After all, it is in that setting where young minds should get their first taste of why rules are important in life.
Children today should be crucial parts of the community engine of tomorrow, and while there are significant efforts through education and various opportunities that never existed decades ago, there are signs that beneath the surface there are too many young people falling victim to negativity as a result of a weakening family values.
As a gentleman said to me recently, “too many children having children creates a situation where the question arises as to who is teaching whom about values”.
Although most of us have heard similar statements in recent times, it seems unfair to cite all young mothers as flawed without knowing various circumstances and conditions in their lives. While there are many stories of young mothers who accept the enormous responsibility of raising a child without much support from the father, in some cases, the task is a made even greater because she, too, is still learning about life.
Add to that the stress of adjusting to a different lifestyle in a fast-moving world, where many traditional values are falling like the autumn leaves, a young mother could feel as though she is alone with no one really caring. However, there are government programmes geared to assist young women in such situations. The opportunity for further education is also a feature in that effort, which must continue if there is to be any hope for the future.
The real problem of declining family values runs far deeper than the issue of young, single mothers. In some two-parent homes, children are exposed to crude, foul language and even physical abuse. Despite efforts to keep such activity behind closed doors, once authorities become aware of an incident often through evidence by a child, the matter could go before the courts. The point here is that troubled young minds eventually will become problems for the entire community, unless the full community recognises that declining family values should be given the collective attention that is generated when a powerful hurricane is approaching our shores.
Should we fail to recognise that declining family values is not a political matter, but is an urgent issue for every single Bermudian who believes in values, we might wake up one day and discover that Bermuda really is another world. But not the one we dreamt about.
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