Continue to teach morality, right and wrong to kids

    On Aug. 25, people across the nation were shocked and disgusted by Miley Cyrus’ performance at the Video Music Awards. That night, the following morning and even today, people continue to talk about the performance in a negative light.
    Not having a television, I didn’t watch the VMAs, but upon reading the accounts of a grossly provocative performance to a misogynistic song seemingly about rape, I quickly learned what I had missed.
    Many of the commentaries surrounding this performance have focused on Miley Cyrus’ past as a Disney role model. While understandable, I couldn’t help but think that the people who have grown up idolizing this celebrity could certainly distinguish whether such behavior was acceptable.
    As I had planned, many of my students had watched the performance, had heard about what people were saying and had their own opinions. Since one of their essays had to do with how our culture informs our personal identities, I decided to focus my class discussion around the incident, using commentaries from news outlets and blogs to present an overview of the issue.
    To my surprise, I found that many, if not all, of my students were just as disgusted as the “older generation” of people writing about the event. Not only were they able to disengage themselves from viewing her as someone they may have once looked up to, but they were able to voice concern and focus on exactly why many of them felt such negativity towards such a performance.
    It is so easy to think about “kids these days” as simply mimicking society’s standards and ideals of what is appropriate and inappropriate.
    So many of the commentaries I read and the comments posted by readers of those commentaries focused on the problems associated with “kids these days,” as though those “kids” are unable to think for themselves.
    On the contrary, I believe young adults are not only capable of thinking for themselves, but that those seeds of morality and ethical conduct planted by their families and schooling begin to flower once they realize they have a right to their own opinion.
    Our society certainly has its problems. We are almost inured to immorality with such a focus on sexuality, violence, drugs and other evils. But if in our homes and in our education we continue to focus on teaching the faith, teaching right and wrong, and explaining those things, we have nothing to fear from the upcoming generations.
    Everyone makes mistakes, but when those actions go too far – such as what was witnessed on the stage at the VMAs and even in the reactions by celebrities in the audience – people begin to speak up and loudly protest.
    And as they do so, they recall their upbringing, they recall their morality, and despite the constant uproar that calls attention to immoral behavior, they make the right decisions, standing firm in what they have been taught.
    Heather Bozant Witcher can be reached at

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