Top psychologist warns of loss of traditional values

A “fundamental loss of respect” for parents, teachers and the values “previously instilled by the church” has been criticised by a top psychologist.

Tommy MacKay, a professor at Strathclyde University, warned that society is “losing its old anchor points” and added that we are sitting “on an unexploded time bomb of disturbed behaviour”.

His comments come as figures show a concerning rise in domestic abuse perpetrated by under 18-year-olds.


Prof MacKay, a leading psychological authority, said parents still have a duty to “provide the foundations of traditional values by instilling in their children a respect for their parents and for others”.

And he said: “The decline in these traditional values can be traced systematically over recent decades, and with it a corresponding increase in problems in society.”

Prof MacKay commented: “Old ideas of sacrificial commitment for the benefit of others have sharply declined, as can be seen in the dozens of voluntary organisations that can no longer get the support and leadership they require.

“The old values have been increasingly replaced with the ‘cult of self’, and the highest ideal for millions is now seen in the celebrity culture which is idolised and to which so many aspire. Expectations should be raised and not set at the lowest possible bar.”


Prof MacKay cautioned: “Over the years there has been a fundamental loss of respect for parental and school authority and for the values previously instilled by the church”.

He went on to praise the benefits of school uniforms, saying they cut out “any idea of children competing to be equal to or better than others because they wear designer labels”.

He also said patriotism should be reclaimed as something positive, saying it should be “an honourable idea associated with something still bigger and more important in society than one’s family or school”.


The figures on domestic abuse, reported in the Sunday Herald, show in 2009 there were 1,572 police reports of domestic abuse carried out by young people aged up to 18-years-old, a 17 per cent rise on the previous year.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said the country’s new curriculum was giving children and young people the opportunity to develop “respect for others”.

Last year statistics showed tens of thousands of school pupils were suspended from schools in England in 2009 for attacking their teachers or classmates.

Almost 17,000 of these suspensions involved primary school pupils aged 11 and under, and over 63,000 of them involved children in secondary schools.

The Department for Education’s statistics also revealed that there were 1,240 cases of children aged four and under being suspended for a variety of reasons during 2008-09.

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