Parents failing to give girls a moral compass, says head
IT IS now up to schools to provide a “moral compass” for young girls, as parents are no longer bringing up their children with traditional values, a leading headmistress has said.
Hilary French, headmistress of Newcastle High School for Girls, said that today’s teenagers were lacking a “homespun common sense approach”, adding that schools must “step in for the benefit of the girls”.
She described how a number of changes in society – including the breakdown of the extended family network and the waning influence of the Church – had led to a decline in moral authorities that influenced girls as they grew up.
This meant that parents were under greater strain to provide an ethical framework for their daughters, which they are often unable to do since they are struggling to cope with the same cultural pressures themselves.
“If you’re a young parent you’re under as much pressure as teenagers are nowadays in terms of trying to keep up, balancing, juggling, all these sorts of things. It is very hard,” Mrs French told The Sunday Telegraph.
“The extended family of aunts, grandparents and great grandparents which you tend to see in Europe more is split up in our country.
“Partly because our lives are so busy and partly because people move around so much. There are a lot of par- ents now who don’t have a benefit of advice from previous generations and can’t rely on them for help.”
Mrs French, a former president of the Girls’ Schools Association, a group of the most respected girls’ schools in the country, added that the Church was another “steadying influence” that had now declined.
“You used to have quite solid traditional [messages] coming to you from those sorts of institutions, attitudes and
‘There are a lot of parents now who don’t have a benefit of advice from previous generations’
ways you will treat people and so on,” she said. “They provided a really solid foundation for building on a person’s character.
“But they’ve almost been drowned out by everything that comes to you through Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, the Kardashians, all that kind of stuff. With the growth of technology and impact of media, old fashioned traditional values have been watered down and have been lost in some cases. Just having that homespun common sense approach is almost missing now.”
She said that it was now up to schools to rise to the challenge of instilling young women with a sense of morality. “Somebody needs to be a moral compass in our society,” she said.