Joanna Lumley bemoans modern children’s ‘slack’ morals

Lumley: Kids have slack morals

The children of modern Britain have morals that are on the rocks, according to Joanna Lumley.

Championing ‘old fashioned’ morality, she has spoken out against a perceived decline in standards, manners, and a respect for law and society.

“We are very slack with our moral codes for children these days. Nowadays, children find it laughably amusing to shoplift and steal,” she told the Radio Times.

“We smile when they download information from the Internet and lazily present it as their own work. We allow them to bunk off school and bring in sick notes,” she added.

Is Lumley’s attack justified?

A large part of the problem is that modern media loves to report bad news, gleefully rubbing its hands when standards are perceived to have fallen, or when they can report crimes involving children and young people.

Have standards really declined

She may have only witnessed “one ‘crime’ during the whole time [she] was at school”, but lets’ remember that this was a fairly well-to-do Catholic school in leafy Kent.

“Problem children” in schools may be a widening issue, but it was surely some sort of issue in the 1950s. I don’t believe that the only misdemeanours were of fountain pens going missing.

Copying from the Internet

I know the Net is blamed for many things, and that plagiarism is perhaps made easier nowadays (although so is its detection, ironically), but the world wide web opens up immense positive possibilities for our children.

Finger Maths

It seems Ms Lumley may not be as clever as she’d like our kids to be.

When I was at school, I was taught to work out simple sums in my head, or to write down more complicated ones and work them out on paper.

Yet Lumley thinks laptop computers should be banned from schools until kids “can prove [they] can add up on [their] fingers.”


Good honest labour

Ms Lumley also believes that our kids are being mollycoddled, being sent into a ‘false paradise’.

“We’re not teaching them… how to accomplish a job and finish it… and actually achieve a trade.”

“I would like to see children involved in hearty-sounding pursuits, such as building a camp. Or getting an entire school to go and work in a farm, for a term, all together,” she said.


I have no doubt that Joanna Lumley’s intentions are honourable, and I believe there is some truth in what she says.

Our education system is rather confused, as successive governments backtrack on the other side’s policies, yet all claim to be returning ‘back to basics’.

Yet the message that seems to resonate in her outcry is that young people’s morality has been flushed down the toilet.

I just don’t believe that’s true.

There are sections of society where children haven’t been brought up to respect themselves and others, but there are also many honest, decent and hardworking families with amazing kids achieving all manner of incredible things.

The balance may have changed, certainly in perception even if not in actuality, but the youth of today aren’t all bad.

Technology has moved on. Computers and the Internet are here to stay, and our children must be taught to use this technology both skilfully and responsibly.

We also need to strike a balance between allowing children just to be children, and giving them responsibilities that will help them grow into mature adult citizens.

The danger with these sorts of reports is that children and teenagers are tarred with the same brush.

That’s wrong.

It sends a negative message to everyone, not least the young people themselves.

Do we think that kids and teens don’t know that we’re talking about them?

Do you think they appreciate the continual branding as potential immoralists, criminals, truants and delinquents?

I wouldn’t. Would you?

Let’s focus on all the positive things our kids give us, teach them well and… well, I’ll stop before I start quoting from that cheesy pop song, but you know what I mean.

What do you think? Do we need celebrities telling us about the state of our kids, or should they leave well alone?