Thursday, April 15, 2010

'Where are the Elders'

Maneesha Karan

Fiji Times - Friday, April 16, 2010
People have lost their traditional culture which once helped raise respectful responsible youths.
This is the view of the president of Reclaiming Youth International, Dr Larry Brendtro, while conducting a workshop for youth workers and professionals concerned with the support and development of young people in communities at a three-day workshop at Studio 6 that ended yesterday.
"While the traditional culture can be identified as more close-knit, the Western culture depicts more of individuality," Dr Brendtro said. "In all traditional cultures, the kinship system was not the nuclear family. In the indigenous system, our father's brother was considered our father and likewise the mother's sister was considered the mother. So if something happens to the either of the parents, their kin would be there to protect and provide for the kid."
Unfortunately, such cases were rare in the present society, he said. The youngsters were under the elders constant guidance in the olden days, he said.
"The elders taught kids how to be respectful. However, in the Western culture, kids have two or one parent and the kid spends more time with their peers rather than at home.
"In the traditional culture, kids spent only 10 per cent of their time with their peers. Tradition taught how to respect the child and teach the kid to become responsible. They considered children as their property.
"Elders were expected to get the children to learn values. But now, where have all the elders gone?"
He said the lack of connection between children and elders made all children all the more vulnerable to be involved in unwanted activities such drugs and sexual activities.
"We have to create a system that will help do a better job to connect adults and move away from juvenile delinquents," Dr Brendtro, who is also a dean at Starr Commonwealth, a school for difficult youths, said.

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