Interested in becoming a responsible citizen? 

Parents, teachers, 4-H volunteers and others who work with and on behalf of young people and families can become involved in character education.

What is character education?

Character education is the process of learning common attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that are important for people to have as responsible citizens. Good character education can provide ground rules for life for adults and young people, and it stresses the importance of helping children learn and practice behaviors that reflect universal ethical values.

Character education helps children and youth become:

  • Conscious of the right thing to do.
  • Committed to doing the right thing.
  • Competent in doing the right thing.

Why character education?

Many people are concerned about the breakdown in the healthy moral development of children. Increases in delinquency, pregnancies, violence and substance abuse continue to climb among adolescents. Surveys have shown astonishingly high levels of cheating, lying, stealing and drunken driving among teens and young adults. Adults clearly need to do a better job of teaching and modeling high standards of behavior in the family, school and community.

Character education is important in every aspect of a child’s life, including the family, school and community. Kids need consistent messages, and they need all the adults in their lives to have high standards and expectations for ethical behavior. Character education can and should happen as a long-term, communitywide, community-based effort involving schools, parents, social service agencies, law enforcement, churches, businesses, 4-H, and other youth and family organizations.

Character education endeavors fit well with a policy adopted by the Michigan State Board of Education in October 1996, in which the board encouraged public schools to provide character education focusing on principles such as respect, responsibility, caring, trustworthiness, justice, civic virtue and citizenship. These themes also complement much of the content of the Michigan Model Health Education Curriculum used in school districts across the state.


For more information on how to get involved as a youth or volunteer, contact your county MSU Extension office or:

Michigan 4-H Youth Development
Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Phone: 517-432-7575''517-432-7575

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