Adults should heed message from teens

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 3, 2000

Actions speak louder than words. It’s a message we’ve all heard since childhood. Now, it seems a group of Mississippi’s children is reinforcing that message for the adults in their lives.

Students working with the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi played an integral role in the writing — and passing — of a new law that prohibits adults from smoking on school property or at after-hours school functions.

Their reason?

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According to partnership director Nicole Boyd, the students said teachers’ smoking on campus set a bad example.

&uot;I don’t think people realize the impact not just their behavior but other adult behavior has on our youth,&uot; Boyd said.

It’s not just juvenile logic. It’s good sense.

Actions do speak louder than words, and the obviously contradictory message sent by authority figures — &uot;don’t smoke; it’s unhealthy … just ignore me as I sneak away for a quick cigarette break&uot; — won’t fly with youngsters.

And it shouldn’t.

Adults’ actions do speak louder than words. And if we want our children to avoid smoking, then we must be prepared to model the behavior we want to instill in them — however much of an inconvenience that modeling may be.

It’s a tried and true method of teaching that can be applied to lessons as varied as respecting others to following the rules and as basic as meeting responsibilities and following the Golden Rule.

After all, why should children follow these rules if we, as adults and apparent authority figures, don’t respect the rules enough to follow them?

Juvenile logic? Don’t kid yourself.

It’s the key to connecting with our future — our children. Maybe it’s time for the adults to stop and take notice — the children are watching.