To the Editor:
R-E-S-P-E-C-T: What does it mean to our kids? It is important that children develop respect for themselves or others. Children are born without biases about other people of any race, culture, gender, or disability. We sometimes wonder if we can raise children free of prejudice by just leaving well enough alone and making sure not to pass on negative attitudes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work this way; society’s messages are too pervasive.
As parents and teachers, we need to take positive action if children are to grow up comfortable with who they are and respectful of others. Our society is a melting pot. We as parents and educators have a responsibility to help children grow up confident of their own identity, respectful of other people, and aware of the rich diversity in their community and the world. We can do this by leading by example, educating our children, and respecting others in our diverse society.
A version of this article appeared in the February 29, 2012 edition of Education Week as Respect Must Be Taught and Learned