The Day of Respect is a project co-developed by Rabbi Soetendorp to give young people an awareness of the meaning of respect. In 2006, the first Day of Respect was organised, which focused particularly on 11 and 12 years-old, in grades 7 and 8. As part of the Day of Respect program, from the beginning of the school year, students were asked to think about the term 'respect' using interactive material. On the actual 'Day of Respect,’  well-known Dutch personalities from all sectors of society, sports, music, politics, arts, and so forth, were invited to give a guest presentation at a school.

boxThe guest participants focus on the idea of respect which is further reinforced throughout the year by the teacher who has also been trained in the Day of Respect curriculum. By repeatedly introducing the idea of respect into regular lessons taught by their teachers, a dialogue between the children and the idea of respect will take place and will extend as well to conversations about respect between the children and their parents. By repeatedly reinforcing the subject of 'respect' throughout the year, the idea will gradually take hold. The foundation also hopes that young people will identify themselves with these pop ‘heroes’ who speak at the participating school, so that it becomes 'cool' to be respectful.

The reactions of the media, guest speakers, teachers, but above all, the children and their parents, were overwhelming. On this basis, the Foundation has continued to organise annual Day of Respect events and has proceeded to expand its program. Now, (guest) talks are held in the morning, and during the afternoon 'Programs of Respect' are organised, in collaboration with other local organisations to engage society more broadly in the idea of respect. The program has grown from an initial 120 speakers volunteering at 120 schools in 2006, to over 2.500 participating schools in 2009. Pilot events have been initiated in a small number of secondary schools.

Watch a video on the Day of Respect:

It is the aim of the Day of Respect to raise awareness among young people, and through them the awareness of their parents, of the fact that Dutch society is made up of people from many different backgrounds, with different cultures and with different ideas, customs and traditions. The Foundation wants to engender respect as a normative attitude among youth: respect for each other, respect for the society in which they live, as well as respect for nature and the environment. Because education forms an excellent platform through which to spark interest in each other and in other ideas, the Foundation organises an annual Day of Respect in schools across the Netherlands.

In the coming years the Day of Respect Foundation hopes to bring about a change of attitude amongst the Dutch and in Dutch society. Many social problems could be solved by having and acting upon a sense of respect. There is also a growing awareness in Dutch society of the effect that environmental degradation and the related natural disasters which cannot be halted unless we all make radical changes in our behaviour patterns. Using the Day of Respect and other programs which promote respect, the Foundation aims to foster a Netherlands in which every citizen is welcome, where his or her individual freedom is respected and where people do not feel threatened because they are 'different'.

Find more information here.

The Soetendorp Institute


Jacob Soetendorp Institute for Human Values
Van Wijngaerdenstraat 21
2596 TW The Hague
The Netherlands