By Iyabo Lawal
Over the years, society has witnessed deterioration in its moral, social and educational values, especially among youths.
However, the issue of moral decadence has become a very controversial one because society is developing so rapidly, and with advancement in technology, the line between what is morally right or wrong is blurring.
Moral decadence among youths, especially students in primary and secondary schools, is nearing crisis point.
Recent research studies showed that a higher percentage of secondary school students are engaging in various immoral activities, such as cultism, violence, cyber crimes, underage sexual activities and examination malpractice, among others, and if something is not done to curb these vices, the chances are that society will pay dearly for it, as is already seen in the level of crimes and criminality among young people.
Though moral decadence among youths has been majorly blamed on parents for lack of proper upbringing of their kids and the media for exposing some critical scenes capable of polluting innocent minds, experts note that the government should not be left out as one of the culprits.
According to stakeholders, moral decadence has replaced core moral values in present times, and this ravaging phenomenon is the cause of some of the major problems currently faced in the country, where youths do not think of how tomorrow would be better than today, or how to invent new things to automate processes involved in daily activities, but rather focusing on how to enrich themselves by any means and controlling enormous wealth at a tender age.
The level of moral decadence in the society today is one anomaly that requires concerted effort of all stakeholders to address. Though the magnitude varies from one society to another, generally, moral decadence is at the root of every societal problem.
All over the world, it has become so bad that one sometimes wonders if the world can ever be better than what we are seeing at the moment.
The decadence is deep such that family, the very cradle of life, has also, ironically, become a cradle of rot. With instability in many homes and parents grappling with lack of moral authority themselves, many children are raised without character and integrity.
When children begin school, which is usually their first point of interaction with the outside world, a confluence of people from different backgrounds poses a formidable challenge and soon, innocence gives way to conflicts that threaten students, their teachers, their schools and challenges the capacity of education as a force for moral rectitude.
In today’s Nigeria, primary school pupils in some parts are now known to form and belong to cult groups, in some secondary schools, it is routine for fights to break out at the end of each school day with violent teenage cultists leaving petrified teachers unable to enforce the rigorous discipline without which education is an empty husk, with neither soul nor substance.
An educationist, James Adeoye, stressed the need to tackle moral decadence in schools, pointing out that morality is almost at the lowest ebb in the nation’s education sector.
According to him, a balanced form of education requires that teachers impart academic knowledge and moral values on students.
Decrying the state of sycophancy among teachers and staff of some schools, Adeoye said: “Most rich people in our society feel money can do all things. There is sycophancy among teachers in their relationship with parents. Any parent that greases the palms of these teachers will make them not to do the needful concerning any erring pupil or student, so that the financial benefits they enjoy will not stop.”
For Mrs. Olutoke Adams, parents must live up to their responsibility by ensuring that values of integrity and hard work are imbibed in their wards. “I want to encourage parents and guardians to remember that the home is the child’s first school and first church. The responsibility of inculcating time-tested universal values in them lies on parents’ shoulders,” Adams said.
A cleric, David Toluwalase, said individuals, and not the church, should be blamed for the growing moral decadence in the society, despite the proliferation of churches. Toluwalase said while the church had the duty of teaching morals and righteousness, individuals reserved the decision on how to live their lives.
The cleric also accused parents of living lives that expose their children to crime. He lamented the attitude of some parents when it comes to bringing up their wards. He said wrong family values have bred criminals and other societal vermin in the country.
“This led to rebellion, wild behaviour and permissiveness, which compounds the perilous times, added to the dearth of moral leaders in the country which has immensely contributed to corruption, youth restiveness, killings and displacements from ancestral homes. There is much suffering, violence and killings today due to moral bankruptcy. There is deterioration of moral values from family units, to groups and countries, such that the country is now badly affected,” he said.
Director of Schools, Young Tots, Lagos, Mrs. Odunola Jacobs, dwelt on the role of mothers in the society. She urged them to pay total attention to their onerous duty, which shapes humanity, stressing that the role of women or mothers is pivotal and rubs off on their offsprings.
“In this age of juvenile delinquency, internet dating, indecent dressing, permissiveness, waywardness and alarming rate of drug abuse, it is important that the home environment is warm and welcoming. A good mother ensures that the child has such a welcoming home. A good mother is a role model to her children and the society.”
She appealed to mothers to inculcate greater values in their children and impact the society, reminding that mothers are the first teachers and never go off duty from when they were formed in the womb till when they become adults.
A public analyst, Femi Aduwo, lamented that some parents are clearly responsible for the moral decadence in children and teenagers all over the world.
“Every parent you meet talks about the good old days when children were brought up with sound moral and ethical sanctity. Why is it that parents who are privileged to have received such quality upbringing in times past are the ones bringing up morally decadent children with little or no regard to societal norms and values? There is something seriously wrong and parents should take the blame for these troubling failures. The truth is that parents have abdicated their primary responsibility of building their homes and families, in pursuit of wealth, riches, material things, career, pleasure and fun and have developed all manner of excuses to justify their negligence of this noble duty,” Aduwo said.
Johnson Eloho, an educationist, said: “Indiscipline among primary and secondary school children has become alarming and teachers are ‘scared’ of beating them for fear of being harassed. Many children are into different secret societies, which are not known to their parents, many would have taken lots of hard substances before coming to school. Some parents are not even modeling good behaviour. How on earth do you now expect the children to have good morals?”
Elohor suggested employment of counsellors in schools to curtail indiscipline and restore lost values. “Some of the key ways to reduce immorality among young ones and correct it is for those who have been negatively impacted to go through counseling, engage them in moral education, orientation seminars as extracurricular activities to get them ‘re-orientated’ in the right values.”
“Parents, caregivers, peers and the media need to consciously guide them aright, re-orientating them in values that have been lost hitherto so that we don’t lose our dear ones to the decadence in the society outright. Through proper education and guidance, present and upcoming generations can retrace their steps, gain the right knowledge to uphold high moral standards, have good judgment of wrong and right, be selective in their choices of role models, and seek for lasting impact, rather than immediate gain.”
A campaigner against domestic violence and child sexual abuse, Ugo Fidel Onwuraokoye, said recent events in schools are clear indication that the society has failed. According to her, a child’s development starts from the home, the foundation of education.
“But sadly, some parents haven’t done a good job in giving their children a solid foundation on life’s lessons. Harsh and difficult economic situation in the country makes it even more difficult. Many parents pour more of their time and energy on trying to make ends meet. As a result, children lose the training they are meant to have from their parents. Schools, on the other hand, bear the burden of training damaged children. They are put under pressure to churn out refined, balanced and well-behaved children, which is a tall task; schools can only do their best. The society is not kind to victims or perpetrators of evil. People condemn without adequate knowledge of an incident. If these happenings are not well handled, victims will keep sinking into the valley of emotional trauma. Depending on how their minds work, some might start thinking suicide or even attempt it.”
She stressed the need for the government to overhaul the nation’s educational system.
“We need more of inclusive education, that is, education where parents, government and schools work together for better development of children. If the government can improve the quality of education, most parents will opt for government schools. That will motivate schools to up their games in making sure students get value for their money and detailed education. Discipline is being eroded in the school system, especially private schools. Government-owned schools, on the other hand, abuse children in the name of discipline. Children need sound and balanced discipline. I am of the school of thought that children should grow to a certain age before being allowed to possess phones. Parents must also build a solid and friendly relationship with their wards. Once the communication channel is open in the home and children know they can trust their parents, they always open up to them.” she said.