Page last updated at 08:46 GMT, Monday, 13 February 2006

Culture of respect: The Cooper family

Left to right: Tim, Lily, Theo and Elma Cooper

The Cooper family live in north London and are of English and Irish heritage.

Elma 50, a psychologist, was born and grew up in Ireland and has lived in London since 1981.

Tim, 48, a journalist, is of English heritage but mainly lived abroad until he was 16.

The couple have two children - Lily, 13 and Theo, 10.

Elma and Tim Cooper

Elma: I was brought up very much in a Catholic background and from a very young age was taught to consider other people. Religion doesn't really now have a great influence on me but there are by-products of it when it comes to respect.

"I don't think things like Asbos help create respect but maybe some sort of education with discussion group or classes would. A lot of people just never sit down and think about it. If they had a forum where they could talk about what respect is all about it might improve their behaviour."

Tim: "Respect to me in a family context means maintaining a balance and treating your children as adults and respecting their personalities and views. I was brought up with a pretty strict approach to social behaviour and the idea that 'manners maketh man'.

"I think there was an assumption in previous generations that certain people commanded respect and they didn't have to earn it, people in authority, people who wore suits and had proper jobs and so on. That has changed and there's more of a meritocracy now and people feel you need to earn respect. But I think it might now have gone too far the other way."

Lily and Theo Cooper

Lily: "There are different types of younger people, there are some who are just rude and don't care what other people think or what they do and there's people who do give respect and would stand up on a bus and let older people sit down.

"Obviously people of different status get respected differently so a police officer gets more respect than a child, people who hold important jobs or who are older get more respect than younger people. But everyone should be respected and it doesn't really matter how old you are."

Theo: "You shouldn't expect people to treat you well if you don't treat them properly. People should be polite to each other. Some people don't give as much respect as they should to their elders but some older people don't notice the world is changing and people have got a different attitude towards things.

"For example, adults talk about respect and how it should be like it was a long time ago but there's nothing we can do, that's just people nowadays."


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