IN the late 70s and early 80s, public nuisances such as making loud noises after 10pm in a neighbourhood, consumption of alcohol, drunken behaviour, urinating and carrying weapons in public were a no-no.
The fathers of the 1970s and 80s were brought up and taught by the colonial administrators on how to behave, dress and conduct themselves in public.
Christianity was the agent of change pushed through by the mainstream churches – the Catholic church, Anglican church, Seventh Day Adventist church, United Church and Lutheran church.
They taught and stressed the morals of good behaviour through Christian teachings. They emphasised the virtues of good social behaviour.
Look back at photos from the 70s and 80s and you will see those respectable men and women who grew up under the wings of the founding leaders and learned a lot from them.
Sadly, these men and women were only a very small percentage of the population.
Today, many people leave their homes and villages and go straight to school.
They do not go through the same process of upbringing and the instilling of good values those past leaders experienced.
As the country went through the 80s and 90s and entered the digital era, the various governments tried to keep up its pace with rapid development changes.
The governments then put up more schools while the church-run schools dropped and under-capitalised and were unable to teach the new generation of Papua New Guineans what they did in the 70s and 80s.
It seems that we have forgotten about quality education and are putting more focus on quantity in an attempt to get as many people as possible to be literate.
And we have left out an important component – the instilling of good and responsible behaviour.
Today, we witness more school fights and brutality in public, including those meted out by the very people who should be enforcing the law – the police.
We seem to have regressed in our social development, returning to the primitive behaviour of being head-hunters, women-stealers, executioners of sorcery agents and resorting to fights over land ownership.
The country needs to seriously look at restoring the teaching of good moral conduct into the education system – from primary school to secondary school.
The best way to make this a reality is to give that responsibility back to the mainstream churches.
They know best how to go about it, as they had done to the first crop of national leaders who had brought us to where we are today.
The Government must acknowledge that making tougher laws will not solve social problems in the country.
The churches must be allowed to again become the main drivers of social changes for our current generation of citizens.
Let the churches teach our children the right way to behave, dress and how to respect others. And they deserve our – most of all the Government’s – support.
Unless those values are instilled in the children, little progress will be made in our development.