Character education

Recent studies of youngsters between the ages of eleven and fourteen reveal a disturbing fact. Many have little if any sound sense regarding moral and ethical issues. Youngsters who come from homes where the parents have a strong religious faith, however, stand out dramatically from this norm. While they may or may not behave better, they know that shoplifting, for example, is not a game or a challenge, but stealing. They don't subscribe to the philosophy that it's getting caught that is wrong. They understand that abstaining from sexual activity outside marriage is considered to be a virtue. Unlike most of their peers they have a moral and ethical compass that can guide them through a challenging time of their lives.

This should encourage readers of this magazine to persist in sharing those teachings of the Bible that give young people the ability to judge between right and wrong. Honesty, unselfishness, consideration of others, self-control, trustworthiness, are significant ideals that parents and Sunday School teachers can cultivate in youngsters through example and precept. The Ten Commandments and Christ Jesus' Sermon on the Mount provide the basis for such education. Additionally, the Scriptures provide practical illustrations of the benefits of heeding this instruction and show the suffering and sorrow that come when one doesn't.

Parents and teachers learn quickly that success in such education requires that we live what we wish to teach. If the parents smoke or drink, it's unlikely that their eleven-year-old is going to resist his best friend's invitation to try it out for himself. Hypocrisy can set children adrift at the very time they need something to depend on. It is likely, though, that if we learn to cultivate and master the ideals we want to impart, we'll also become more effective parents and teachers. In addition, we need to find ways to make this spiritual and moral education a part of the fabric of daily life. After stating God's law to the children of Israel, Moses instructed them, "These words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up" (Deut. 6:6, 7).

Enjoy 1 free Sentinel article or audio program each month, including content from 1898 to today.

Dash—in God's care!
November 29, 1993

We'd love to hear from you!

Easily submit your testimonies, articles, and poems online.