Kids need to be taught not to litter. It's something we stopped doing a long time ago. The responsibility for that education, while reinforced by the community, should begin in the home. In other words, parents, teach your kids not to be litterbugs.

While there were numerous media and public service campaigns when I was a kid, it was our parents who taught us right from wrong. That education included some basic tenets, such as respect yourself, respect others, and respect the community – meaning don't throw trash on the ground. Walk it over to the nearest trash receptacle, or hold on to the garbage until you get home.

The problem is that many parents have never learned not to litter themselves, and so their munchkins adopt their parents' littering ways. A child is not born with the sense not to litter. They must be taught to clean up after themselves. This process has to begin at home.

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The New Bedford City Council is expected to receive a motion tonight filed by Councilors Ian Abreu, Maria Giesta, and Naomi Carney. The councilors seeks to gather government leaders together to discuss the existing litter ordinance and ways to make it more effective. The sponsors say the ordinance should contain an educational component. I agree.

A stricter anti-littering ordinance should also include fines, signage, and an inclusive media campaign designed to make residents understand that they have a stake in keeping New Bedford clean. Former New Bedford Mayor Jack Markey adopted the "Feel Better in New Bedford" campaign, and with Markey's permission, perhaps it could be dusted off and brought back.

When people feel pride in their surroundings, they are less likely to want to sully things up.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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