On Thursday, nearly 900 Payson High School students were given an opportunity to learn more about each other and the value of giving respect.
A four-hour program, titled "Days of Respect" was organized by Payson School District officials as part of an ongoing effort to reduce the risk of violence in our schools. The premise is simple -- if students have greater respect toward one another, there will be less destructive behavior born of hatred and intolerance.
We wanted to know how the students felt about the workshops and discussions they participated in Thursday. Here are some of the responses we received that summarize the opinions we heard:
"I think the program helped some students to realize how much their degrading, disrespectful remarks can hurt others." -- Scott Ryan, senior
"I am sure that some people are benefiting from the workshops, but the majority will forget by tomorrow morning." -- Reed Hatch, junior
"I don't understand how it's going to help people because we are already at an age when we've decided how we are going to respect others." -- Joy Philyaw, senior
"Everyone is opening up and sharing their views about what they think respect is all about." -- Bobby Gonzales, sophomore
"I think it's only going to have a positive impact if the students join together to enforce their ideas, such as not discriminating." -- Jessica Porter, senior
Our conclusion: Children must learn respect for others at home when they are young. Trying to teach teenagers such an important character trait is difficult but not impossible. If the "Days of Respect" workshops reached even one student in a way that stops destructive behavior, the program was successful.
So when is the best time to teach a child respect -- the answer is "any time you can."