Why Today's Youth Have No Respect For Authority

If you're a parent disappointed with your children, read this, then look at yourself. Respect, what is it? An attitude of esteem, consideration or regard. A respectable person is generally thought to be deserving of the respect of others. Today's authority figures aren't respected because they don't deserve it. Here's why:

There's some cynical stuff in education. Don't misread me: doctors spend years training, and if you want to be a plumber you'll need an apprenticeship. It's easy to see how this makes sense, but I think many other so-called educational courses offered to youth do more harm than good.
Take Mark for example, an ordinary kid leaving school looking for a job. He asks in a cafe, asks around a lot, only to find out later he hasn't been 'lucky' because he's up against another kid who's completed a ‘Cafe Course’. He's told not to take it personally, but he's 'underqualified' for cafe work. It's then suggested he get into debt without a job offer to complete unit standards 'How to Make an Espresso', 'How to Wash Dishes', 'How to Smile at Customers' and 'How to Get to Work on Time.' Isn't this an insult to a person's basic intelligence?
These 'qualifications' are demeaning and disempowering. If someone recommended I get into debt with low employment prospects to 'learn' something I already knew or which I (or any bright kid) could pick up in five minutes, I'd tell them to get fucked, wouldn't you? It's absurd to go to polytech to learn these basics. The cherry on top is that upon graduation, if he's 'lucky' enough to get a job, Mark will be rewarded with the youth minimum wage, another form of exploitation. This person is supposed to have sense of self esteem. Why would they? Driving is a life skill pertinent to any person's job prospects, enabling them to work anywhere. Funding could be reserved for kids from poorer families to learn to drive. But that would make too much sense.
Watch the news, read the paper. Sure, the media is disproportionately negative, but if you're a person in authority you're likely to be a public figure, and an awful lot of public figures are discovered to be corrupt. Massive global fraud, Catholic priests sexually abusing children, warmongering lying world leaders or locally a council largely working against rather than for the community it was elected to serve. Young people see this everywhere and are expected to show respect! Why? Perhaps yesteryear's youth were more obedient? Don't fool yourself now, nobody's getting any respect from this generation until they earn it. The fact that you wear a fancy robe, have a fancy title, or have millions endorsing you means absolutely nothing.
We all do 'good' and 'bad' things. Everyone can probably think of one thing they've done they're not proud of, but don't blame it on your kids! There's huge disparity in our justice system's treatment of people. The more money, power, or social rank you have (young people have none of this) the more likely it is you’ll get away with something you shouldn't have done. Thus we see the most heinous crimes committed by those in power: parents, politicians, teachers, and business people, yet the court news invariably features youth convictions for the most petty crimes, like a 17-year-old or solo parent smoking pot and harming nobody. Big fish who pay clever lawyers or skip the country rarely fill a whole page of court news. Please stop punishing your kids for doing what you do. You do these things too, otherwise, where did your kids learn them? Admit you're not always right, that you make mistakes too, and give your children an opportunity to be something better.
'Do as I say, not as I do' is redundant. You're not automatically right because you're older and more experienced; gatekeeping is a priviledged status that condones double standards. You might have more experience appropriate to your generation, but the world's changed a lot and is still constantly changing. When I look at the world my parents and grandparents have created I can honestly say I don't like much of what I see. Wouldn't it be wiser to just admit this? Wouldn't a better motto be 'Don't do what anyone says, learn to think for yourself'? If we're not bold enough to say this, too scared to teach it, we become like trains following predetermined tracks doomed to follow the same worn pathways with little hope of something better.
Posted 1:24am Monday 26th July 2010 by Mia Watkins.