Respect: On Our Way?

What do mortuaries, insulin pumps, and Linkin Park have to do with respect?

Campfel Productions linked these seemingly unrelated topics in the Quest for Respect video, presented at West High School on Tuesday, December 9th. The video featured ways to help people learn the value of respect. It featured police officials from PRIDE taking delinquents to mortuaries to show the effects of bullying and a story about a teenager bullied for having diabetes, all with music by Linkin Park and other bands playing in the background.

The intentions of the assembly and its speakers are admirable. Motivational speaker Isaac Ayala said, “All teenagers are going to have some kind of battle with character flaw–respect or self-esteem. We’re trying to deter disrespect at an early stage.”

The Camfel Productions website advertises itself with these slogans–”Life-changing messages delivered in an attention grabbing format!” and “Relatable and relevant.”

While Camfel Productions’ intentions were genuine, the video did not necessarily live up to its slogans. Two students, Julianne Byun (12) and Becky Jester (10) used the same phrase to describe it– “Trying too hard.” And if the video was “attention-grabbing” for Jester, but not in a good way; she called its attempts to be relevant “laughable.”

It’s no secret that bullying is nothing new. However, the mode and type of bullying is always changing.

“It didn’t address cyberbullying, which is also a big thing right now,” said Byun.

According to the i-SAFE foundation, over 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyberthreats online and over 80% of teens use a cell phone regularly. This is a big problem that was only touched on in the video. For example, it did discuss people feeling depressed because they did not get enough “favorites” or “likes” on Instagram. However, this problem is trivial compared to other issues like cyberbullying. This includes “subtweeting” (posting statements about people on Twitter without tagging them, which is essentially cybergossiping) and direct insults in Facebook comments. Byun said she felt the video seemed to be more about drugs than respect.

And for people who do struggle with those issues, they are less inclined to be paying attention.

“Any of the people having an issue with those things are probably on their phones texting or talking to their friends, so I don’t think it’s reaching the target audience,” said Jester.

The video producers did at least seem to make an attempt at being relatable, featuring clips from popular movies like Spiderman and Planet of the Apes as well as music by popular artists like Sara Bareilles. However, the references were not carried out to completion. Jester found some of the references to be “random and obscure, making absolutely no sense.” While adding elements that teenagersee are familiar is a good idea, it was an idea not completely carried to fruition.

Also, the video focused heavily on negative and fearful situations. Jester suggests that respect be promoted with more hands-on, positive experiences.

While promoting respect is important for teenagers and helps prevent problems for them later in life, videos with contrived references and irrelevant examples are not the best way to go.