Youth too embarrassed to show kindness in public: Poll

StandUpFor.SG is a group of young Singaporeans who seek, among other things, to spread kindness to others. Young people may find comfort in numbers and prefer to volunteer in a group rather than act on their own, says Singapore Kindness Movement's ge
StandUpFor.SG is a group of young Singaporeans who seek, among other things, to spread kindness to others. Young people may find comfort in numbers and prefer to volunteer in a group rather than act on their own, says Singapore Kindness Movement's general secretary William Wan. PHOTO: SINGAPORE KINDNESS MOVEMENT
StandUpFor.SG is a group of young Singaporeans who seek, among other things, to spread kindness to others. Young people may find comfort in numbers and prefer to volunteer in a group rather than act on their own, says Singapore Kindness Movement's ge
Dr Wan hopes volunteering will make young people feel more comfortable about helping others in time.

SKM survey also finds parents feel they should play main role in educating kids on graciousness

One in four young people holds back from showing kindness in public because of fear over being embarrassed, an annual survey on graciousness shows.

Looking stupid or being mocked on social media was cited as deterrents to lending a hand to someone in public by 23 per cent and 11 per cent, respectively, of respondents aged 15 to 24 interviewed earlier this year, according to the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM).

They felt this way even though 39 per cent of the same group had donated money to charitable causes in the past, and 11 per cent had volunteered their time to charitable organisations.

"Even if you want to help, it may not be received, like giving up your seat - and that can be quite embarrassing," said Pek Ting Yu, 19, a Temasek Polytechnic student.

SKM's general secretary William Wan said young people may find comfort in numbers, and prefer to volunteer in a group than act on their own. He said he hoped that volunteering would make them feel more comfortable about helping others in time.

Such reluctance may be something that goes away with age, as people in older age groups seemed to be less bothered by others' perceptions of them. A far smaller percentage of older people said they would not help someone in public out of embarrassment.

Instead, the main reasons given by older people for not helping was being unsure of what to do, or not noticing that help was needed.

Generally, the survey, which polled more than 2,000 residents in two waves, found that people think Singaporeans are making progress in being gracious.

Between the first wave, conducted between last August and September, and the second wave, held between February and March this year, more people felt that Singaporeans were less entitled, more accepting of foreign residents, as well as capable of acts of graciousness such as returning trays at eating places and giving way to others on pathways.

The survey also found that parents feel they should play the primary role in educating their children about values of graciousness.

 
 
 

Fewer parents in the second wave of interviews, or 18 per cent, said they lacked time to spend with their children, compared with 24 per cent in the first wave.

But more parents in the second wave, or 9 per cent, also felt what they taught was not reinforced by their child's environment, up from 6 per cent in the first wave.

Such external influences may come from friends or the Internet.

This concern was stated predominantly by parents of younger children, with 16 per cent citing media as an obstacle, up from 9 per cent in the first wave.

  • 23%

    Percentage of respondents aged 15 to 24 interviewed this year who cited looking stupid as a deterrent to being gracious in public.

To combat this, SKM said it has provided various resources such as animated videos on YouTube for parents to share and discuss with their children.

And to encourage young people to set aside their shyness in helping others, SKM will be organising a second collaboration with all 143 Starbucks outlets as part of its Be Greater campaign.

From July 8 to 12, Starbucks patrons who are spotted sharing their tables with others will receive a special edition Starbucks Be Greater pin, and a dollar off their next drink purchase, which can be redeemed by July 14.

Dr Wan said: "I am heartened to see the perception of graciousness improving in Singapore. SKM will continue to remind Singaporeans that kindness starts from within, and everyone is capable of greatness."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2019, with the headline 'Youth too embarrassed to show kindness in public: Poll'. Print Edition | Subscribe