The day-to-day behavioral program directs the young men at Westview to learn to direct their own lives using five ethical principles: Respect God. Respect others. Respect self. Respect property. Respect nature.*
The principle “respect God” does not require children to believe in God; it does expect respect for the concept of God and for the religious beliefs of others, whether they believe in God, some other religion, or no religion at all.
“Respect others” means maintaining appropriate boundaries in all relationships, and respecting the rightful authority of those who have it. Children are to learn to respect fellow humans as ends, and not merely as means to acquire desired resources. The goal is to develop sustainable relationships.
To “respect self” is to tend to all of the aspects of one’s humanity, and includes: educating the mind, caring for the body, shaping the spirit, being aware of emotions, and growing in virtue. It also requires attention to exercise, appropriate dress, personal hygiene, and a healthy diet. The aim is to have each child engage in their own plan for self-improvement.
The principle “respect property” includes the obvious: do not steal, do not be destructive, and do not be wasteful. Over time, the young men move on to other more challenging virtues: gratitude, accountability, justice, and good stewardship.
In order to “respect nature” a child must learn to conserve resources, tend to the land, and care for other living creatures. Those children involved in livestock projects have a particularly good opportunity to engage this principle. Our hope is that our young men will become ecologically aware, and actively care for our environment.
*Based on the work found in: Ron Bruner, “Through Thick and Thin: Common Ground for Ethical Conversations with At-Risk Youth,” Journal of Youth Ministry, 12 1 (Fall 2013): 69-85.