What I saw .. my experience down there .. left the impression on me that it was a power thing
and it was cold and distant. What those parents did to those poor kids was awful.
I never say sir or maam to this day.
The behavior of those people beat any desire to do so out of me.
I'll call older people 'Mr _____ ' or 'Mrs ____ ' ...
That's respectful and not subservient (which is what those parents were pounding into their children).