Sunday, August 22, 2004

Raising Another Generation of Litterers

Last spring I was heading to work on the subway. With me in the subway car was a group of approximately 25 elementary school age children, along with a few adults, out for a field trip. The trip was very slow due to frequent and lengthy stops between stations due to a fire on the line somewhere.

Never could I have imagined a group of children making so much noise. Twenty five children yelling and screaming at the same time with nary a word of correction from the accompanying adults – some of whom, I assume, must have been teachers.

Finally, after a good half-hour of sharing in this cacophony, one passenger yelled at them to be quiet. I, then, threw in a few choice words of my own regarding how their behavior showed a lack of respect and consideration for those around them. Their teachers looked at me in shock as if they had never heard anyone firmly chastise children before.

I remember growing up. My teachers would never have tolerated such selfish disrespectful behavior from my classmates or myself. Neither would my mother have allowed me to act in such an uncivilized manner in public. Apparently, today’s children are not given the benefit of being taught when to speak quietly or when to shut up altogether.

I believe that a direct parallel can be drawn between this little experience of mine and Toronto’s litter problem. For one thing, both involve people who seem to believe that the world revolves around them, who have very little consideration of the feelings of others and who care nothing about how their actions impact those around them.

Seems to me that if we wanted to raise a generation of rude, disrespectful, littering adults, one way to do it would be to allow them to be noisy, inconsiderate, undisciplined children.


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