Education is key to enabling people to make well informed decisions and ensuring that, particularly young people, know, for example, the consequences of dangerous and reckless driving; or where drug abuse could lead.
I think it is important that credible people with real life experience about things such as the consequences of road accidents visit schools and speak to children.
Often I think well meaning attempts to inform young people about both sides of an argument actually result in confusion, and there is a need to ensure such exercises are tailored to pupils’ ability to objectively assess evidence. There is in my view a need for more clarity in some areas, for example on the potential health risks of drug abuse. Too often I think “decide for yourself” comes across as dismissive of the health risks.
There is also a need to educate people about our laws and what is and is not acceptable in our society. There are areas such as for example domestic abuse, forced marriage and rape where there is a particular need to ensure that myths about what is acceptable and what constitutes an offence are countered by quality education.
Awareness of our democratic, and policing systems, are in my experience very low. There is widespread confusion, even among councillors setting police priorities, for example on the difference between Special Constables and PCSOs. Even some police officers appeared unaware of the role of Police Authorities in overseeing, and setting the strategic priorities for, the police forces in their areas. We need to ensure people are empowered through education to play a part in deciding how our society is run.