Par­ents fail­ing to give girls a moral com­pass, says head

The Sunday Telegraph - - News - By Camilla Turner ED­U­CA­TION ED­I­TOR

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.

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