The decline of religion
Traditional family values often refer to morality, religion and a way of life that recognises right from wrong. In the last century family values have undoubtedly changed significantly alongside the change of family structure and composition. Religious code of practice was once considered the blueprint for living life; today, however religion is in decline and people are much more inclined to follow a more material lifestyle. Christian research suggests that there has been a decline of over 60% since 1985 in churchgoers aged between 20 and 29. Aside from the influence of consumer-driven society, the decline in marriage and increase in abortion and divorce also compound the decreasing evidence of traditional religion-based values in modern society.
The breakdown of the family unit
The decline of the nuclear family unit has been proven to increase crime, violent and anti-social behaviour and addictions to drugs, smoking and alcohol; children and young adults from broken families are also more likely to lose their virginity at an early age, drop out of full time education and receive custodial sentences. The family unit was traditionally an education in itself, with grandparents and elder members of the community responsible for passing on their wisdom and moral guidance to younger generations. Although this does still happen in many British homes, it is definitely a tradition in decline and there seems to be no replacement for this kind of education. Youths who come from unstable backgrounds often do not have the opportunity to reach their full potential in school and fail to leave with any significant academic qualifications leaving them ill-equipped for employment.
Studies frequently suggest that the rise in teenage pregnancy often results in children being brought up by inexperienced parents who have no stable income or employment. Struggling financially can mean that children suffer in numerous ways, from not having a healthy and balanced diet to not having a proper education or a clean school uniform. In addition to this, if parents do not instil in their children a sense of what is wrong and what is right then children grow up without the sense of responsibility and morality they should have. This issue is cyclical; if parents continue to have children at a young age when they are effectively children themselves, generations of children are going to be brought up in deprived conditions with little awareness for traditional values.
In today’s society material possessions are often the determiner of social status, rather than profession, education or family background. In schools this is exemplified by those children who get bullied for not having designer trainers or the latest scooter. Today, such is the power of the media and popular culture that people generally compare themselves to celebrities, who seemingly have everything but are often famous for no real reason, as opposed to the idols of old that were lauded for professional expertise or life-saving heroics. Surveys show that young people are more inclined to pay to vote for who gets evicted from the Big Brother house than register a free vote to decide who they want to be the next Prime Minister in a general election.