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Respect and Responsibility

Respect has to be earned

by Ian Swain (revised, originally published in 2006)

Suitable for Key Stage 3/4


To consider the reasons for respect and the responsibility that it brings.

Preparation and materials


  1. Show Slide 1.

    I wonder what the words ‘respect’ and ‘responsibility’ mean to us. Which people do we respect most? What responsibilities come with this respect?

  2. Maybe we might respect the following people or professionals.

    Show Slide 2.

    Surgeons can hold our lives in their hands. This is a tremendous responsibility and we need to have complete trust in their judgement and abilities. The surgeon gains respect for this.

  3. Show Slide 3.

    Our parents and carers have a huge responsibility because they have a massive influence on our lives. Do they exercise it responsibly? Do we act with respect towards them?

  4. Show Slide 4.

    People who fly aircraft have responsibility for making life-saving decisions, often with hundreds of lives depending on them. This is a huge responsibility. So, do they deserve our respect?

  5. Show Slide 5.

    Most of you will respect many of your teachers. Hopefully, this is because you can trust them, due to them showing that they are generally fair. Also, they show respect to you and are willing to spend time helping you to learn new skills. With trust comes responsibility.

  6. Show Slide 6.

    Police officers are responsible for ensuring that we are safe on the streets and in our homes. Sometimes, they have to put their own lives at risk and make fast decisions that affect the lives of others. Many people respect the job that the police do. Such respect brings great responsibility.

  7. Show Slide 7.

    Thoughtless actions can lead to a loss of respect. All of these people could cause harm if they did not take their responsibilities seriously and treat those in their care with respect. Likewise, we owe these people respect for the way they live and behave.

    We often see famous people in the news who have been respected in their areas of expertise, but have then done something to lose this respect. They have acted irresponsibly and have lost the respect of others.

Time for reflection

Show Slide 8.

Ask the students the following questions.

- Do we have the respect of other people at home?
- What about in the form room?
- Do we have the respect of other people in lessons?
- What about around the school?
- Do we have the respect of other people on the bus?
- What about in the local area?

Ask the following questions.

- If people respect us, what are our responsibilities to those people?
- What can we do to earn respect today?

Pause to allow time for thought.

Show Slide 9.

Someone once said, ‘Respect cannot be learned, purchased or acquired – it can only be earned.’

Dear God,
Respect is a word that we often hear, but do not always fully understand.
Teach us how to earn the respect of those around us by doing what is good and right.
Help us to exercise the responsibility that comes with this respect,
And to treat people with kindness, fairness and honesty.

Publication date: August 2018   (Vol.20 No.8)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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