The Meandering Social Worker

wandering : wondering : learning

Archive for the tag “schools”

What is the purpose of education?

As I’ve visited other parts of the world, not the tourist destinations but where people really live, I’ve seen all kinds of economic lifestyles.  Of the many things I’ve considered, one has been children and education.

There are plenty of places where education is not available for one reason or another.  Sometimes there is simply not enough schools for all children to attend – such as the Kibera district in Nairobi in Kenya: declared an illegal settlement the Kenyan government provide no services whatsoever while NGOs fill the gap and enable around 50% of Kibera children to attend primary school (up to the age of 14).  That is of course if their parents can afford to buy them a (second hand) uniform and a pen or pencil.  In other places the cultural lifestyle doesn’t make it easy for children to attend school – such as the nomadic tribes in Mongolia, where the only way for a child to attend school is to go into the towns and live away from their parents most of the time.  Or for the Himba people in remote parts of Namibia where they can be cut off for months at a time during the rainy season.  It might be absolute poverty, pure and simple – uniforms have to be bought, along with pens, pencils and notebooks, and often school fees paid.  Where there is not enough to put food on the table, where basic needs are not or cannot be met, then school looks like an unnecessary expense.

In these situations it leads to the question: what is the purpose of education?  What is the role of school in education?

For most Mongolian nomadic tribespeople, they will want their children’s education to include an understanding of the seasons, animal husbandry, how the rotational cropping of the sparse vegetation between different herds which graze at different levels can best be achieved through community co-operation and their nomadic lifestyle, how to ride a horse and manage a herd of sheep, cattle or yak, possibly several hundred in number.

For the people living in Andean mountain villages in Ecuador, their education needs to prepare their children for a life on the farm, herding cattle, displaying the courage and confidence to handle the bulls, while providing the opportunity for some to take advantage of their country’s position as a developing economy.

In the 1940’s Abraham Maslow didn’t rate child education high enough to specify it in his hierarchy of human needs.  Hardly surprising in the context that our modern education system only really took effect with the 1944 Education Act (which only made education compulsory, not school, and which has not been rescinded).

 

 

 

 

 

 

But the needs of a modern education are vastly different from Maslow’s time.  Much is made of the benefits of young people going to college and university post compulsory education, which is being extended to age 18 in 2015.  But what is the purpose of education in England?  What are we preparing our young people for?

Perhaps it’s time we were more honest with our young people.  We want to prepare them for possibilities.  Possibilities of fantastic opportunities to work in industry, education, business, primary healthcare and more.  We set their expectations high.  But do we meet the needs of the majority?  The real majority today who will not get the opportunity to experience these fantastic opportunities because there are simply not enough of them.  It is a question I’ve often thought – and one that sits uncomfortably for many people.  It harks back to the bad old days when grammar school selection syphoned off those considered better equipped (intellectually) to take advantage of those fantastic opportunities.  The majority, deemed to have ‘failed’ the 11+ as it was called then, were left to deal with the mental and emotional impact of being labelled ‘failures’.   Yet in our efforts to deal with this societal error we have surely opened the door to a new one.

Young people for years have instinctively recognised the lie that qualifications lead to good and well paid jobs.  They do, but there are only so many of those jobs, and as we know getting those jobs is not just about intellectual capability.  This week the largely tabloid headlines, picked up in a handful of blogs, declared Britain is now a ‘nation of shop assistants’.

Under the heading World of work’s becoming more polarised the Western Daily Press, reports:

Britain is a nation of shop assistants, cleaners and waiters despite increasingly better educated professionals, according to a new report.

The top five largest single occupational groupings include 1.1 million sales and retail assistants, 600,000 cleaners and domestics and 450,000 in kitchen and catering work, said the Jobs Economist consultancy.

Are we preparing our young people for those jobs alongside the possibilities of ‘fantastic opportunities’?  That’s the challenge teachers face every day.

 

Additional References:

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs can be found in numerous places online.

Wikipedia provides a basic introduction to the current position of education in England today, including the raising of the school leaving age to 18 in 2015.

The Education in England website provides a more detailed history of education in England.

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Girls play soccer

Imagine you are the deputy head of a girls’ soccer academy. It’s a small school, around 150 pupils aged between 14 and 18. You have a regular teaching assignment, teaching science. Right now you are standing in front of a class of eager students all waiting to learn. Each one has a Kindle with all their text books downloaded on to it, a pen and a notebook for recording their notes in neat handwriting. You know that those Kindles are treasured and none will be lost or damaged. Each girl is proud to wear her school uniform with the logo “Education is the key to our future”. Each one is different, they all have their own personalities. Some are members of the school soccer team that has won so many trophies you only have room for a quarter of them to remain on display. You know that if you ask the class who wants to set up in their own business when they finish school nearly every girl will put up her hand. You also know you’ll get a range of answers as to the type of business they want to go into. One wants her own butchery business, another wants to go into wholesale, while yet another wants to go into the beauty profession and one wants to be a psychologist.  Most want to continue their education post 18 and go on to college or university. Some would like to come back and teach here. Working with children with such ambitions and love of school and learning makes your job your joy. You’re delighted that the school is growing and that this year the school has had its first intake of boys. The school is popular – two hundred children applied for the 70 places available for the last intake.

With so many reasons to enjoy your work you become more determined to overcome the stresses.

You see the girls smiling faces. You don’t see the ragged sleeves of their jumpers, the frequently repaired skirts and blouses, the shoes that are down at heel and with the broken straps. You don’t see that the old and tiny wooden desks are crammed in tight to all four walls of the classroom with barely room to move a chair and just enough room for you to stand beside the door. You don’t see the rough walls that haven’t been painted since Barclays Bank sent over a team for a “do good day” several years ago. You don’t see the mud courtyard and path that runs around the school, with an open rivulet of water and raw sewage running through it, clogged up with plastic and other rubbish. You don’t smell the stench of garbage that pervades the air all around. You don’t mind that you don’t get paid while your teaching colleagues get on average 25% of the national wage for a teacher. You don’t mind because in return for being house mother and house father to a dorm of ten students whose parents can’t afford to keep them at home, you have a roof over your head and you are able to join in with the free school meals.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen you are not teaching you are talking to sponsors and potential sponsors, finding little bits of money here and there for the things your students and the school need. Some more school uniforms for the students who would not be able to come to school otherwise as their family cannot afford to buy their uniform; the money to pay for the free school meals for everyone otherwise they would almost certainly go without; sanitary towels for the girls so they don’t have to pay for them with free sex to the boys who offer to buy them on their behalf. And that’s before you even think about buying supplies for the science room or some extra books, novels and general fiction, for the school library.

Some of your sponsors are bigger than others – such as the company that provided the Kindles. This means you can pass on your old text books to another school that needs them and free up some more space for another classroom. Another sponsor wanted you to offer places for boys as well as girls and provided you with funds for another building. Right now you are campaigning to raise funds to build a new school-house, the old buildings to be converted into a dormitory so that more of the children can stay at the school all week and make better use of the facilities there.

True to what the school teaches about developing business for independence, you are also involved in supporting a photography and film company, Shedders, run by the school, which helps ‘shed’ light on the reality of life living in a slum and brings in some welcome income from some quite prestigious contracts. You are overseeing the setting up a new internet café where you will also offer photocopying and passport photos.  You help manage the micro-finance scheme that enables your former students and the families of your students to set up in business themselves.

As well as the very successful soccer team the school has a successful drama club that tackles the issues of discrimination, poverty, health problems such as HIV/AIDS, politics and religion that are relevant in their community. The debating club tackle many of the same issues as they take on thorny subjects such as as school dropout, early marriage and domestic violence. The science club recently learned how to make solar power light bulbs and turned their experience into an income generating opportunity.

The school where you work is more than just a school, it is a community resource.  It’s the Kibera Girls Soccer Academy which was founded in 2006 with the philosophy of ‘working against extreme gender inequalities because we know that by educating girls, there is a power ripple effect through the larger community and future generations of leaders’.

What is Kibera?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs it name suggests the school is based in Kibera, a district in Nairobi, Kenya. Kibera is the second largest slum in the world and the largest slum in Africa. In an area of 1.5 square miles live over a million people. That’s 60% of the population of Nairobi living on 5% of the land. Half the population of the Kibera are children and young people under the age of 18. Although the Kenyan government own the land they have deemed Kibera an illegal settlement. This allows them to refuse to recognise the slum and abandon all responsibility for the area and the people in it. Just a short drive away are the homes of the wealthy, with Range Rovers and other luxury cars turning up at the Westernised shopping malls.  The slum butts up close to the French Embassy.

Open sewers run through the streets. Many of the people there live on a $1US a day. Their first priorities are food and shelter. The rubbish piles up against their houses and fences, or clogs the trickling river that runs through the district and is fed by the open sewers.  Refuse collection trucks could not get through the streets, and anyway the people cannot afford to pay for their refuse to be collected and taken away by the private refuse collection companies. Instead it piles up to become the rotting home of rats and mice; the children play amongst it and the goats nibble at the corn husks and whatever other tasty morsels they can find. When the rains come there is flooding and then cholera and typhus claim their dues from among the population. There are few toilets and no private washrooms. Fifty houses might share one latrine – with an average of eight people living in a house that’s one latrine to 400 people. Flying toilets fill in the gaps (sh*t on a leaf or old plastic bag, wrap it up and throw it over the fence). Where public latrines exist, set up by private enterprises that charge for their use, the effluence joins the rubbish in running in rivulets down the streets. With standing and slow moving water, breeding grounds for mosquitoes, malaria is a very real risk. Malaria prevention is undertaken through the use of mosquito nets but there are no clinics or hospitals in Kibera and the only treatment available is for those who can pay to visit the doctors beyond the boundaries. Some die. TB and other chest infections, urban dengue and yellow fever cause more health problems. Cars, let alone ambulances and fire trucks cannot get through many of the narrow streets, and probably wouldn’t bother to come here anyway.  The sick have to be taken out in a wheelbarrow or carried by their family on a home-made stretcher.  The good news is that HIV/AIDS is receding as a problem through the successes of health education programmes.  Few people own bicycles or motorcycles.  Most people walk.  For longer journeys out of the Kibera there is the bus.  An unguarded train track passes through Kibera, running from Mobassa in the south right through to Uganda.  People walk along the track all the time.

Unlike recent refugee camps Kibera is a mature community and doesn’t make the news.  Despite the problems it is a thriving community. The streets are crowded with small businesses, tiny little shops selling household goods, furniture, meat, vegetables, clothing, toiletries, and charcoal. Street vendors cook corn or other local foods and sell to passers by. In between are internet cafés, hairdressers or barbers, and cafés. All the normal shops and business you might expect to find in any shopping centre or town centre High Street.  Except their buildings are built from mud or corrugated iron or old shipping containers.  Around 20% of the people have electricity.  Even though there is no waste removal and treatment service some homes receive fresh water supplies, which they sell to others for 5 Kenyan schilling for 20 litres (about £0.04 or $0.06).  Earlier settlers here now own the homes that others rent.  During the day the streets are mainly walked by children and goats.  Early in the morning and by night the streets are crowded as the workers who travel out of the Kibera for work every day return home.

These are the condition your students live in.  The children are your future and the girls from the Kibera Girls’ Soccer Academy will have the opportunity to use the education your are offering as a means to escape the slum. Some may choose to return to help others escape, just like you and many of your teaching colleagues have chosen to do.

The man who “groomed a nation”

January 2013.  The UK news is full of reports of the early investigations into the activities of what appears to be one of the most prolific paedophiles in recent history.

Jimmy Savile

Born in Leeds on 31 October 1926, the youngest of seven children, Jimmy Savile lived a very private life in the public eye.  It is reported he injured his spine in a mining accident in 1940, when he was 14.  A little later he began what would become his public career as a dance hall DJ.  He went on to become a national icon, a man famous for his white hair, cigar, charity fundraising and eccentricity.  He never married and remained devoted to his mother, whom he called “The Duchess”, and who died in 1983.  Jimmy Savile remained a public figure until his own death on 29 October 2011, two days short of his 85th birthday.

We now know that his privacy and eccentricity were an effective cover for interests and activities that, when they became publicly known in 2012, met with shock and horror.

By 1955, when Savile was 28, he had begun a second ‘career’ as a paedophile.  Anecdotal evidence suggests that in the early 1960’s  he faced at least a couple of investigations for “messing about with girls”, charges which were dropped when he “paid them off”.  In 2009, when Savile was aged 82, the CPS analysed information regarding allegations against him but did not prosecute due to “insufficient evidence”.

Since the ITV revelation of allegations against Savile at the beginning of October 2012, more information and more allegations have come to light.  The collation of this information suggests he was most prolific as a paedophile during the 10 year period 1966-1976; however allegations of abuse date to as recently as 2009, making his paedophile career span over 50 years.

There is anecdotal evidence that his activities were an “open secret” at the BBC, schools and hospitals where he worked, visited or with whom he was involved for ostensibly charitable purposes.  Managers, colleagues, professionals, all knew Savile abused, and especially liked young girls.

Despite this his activities were not yet public knowledge.  In 1971 he was awarded the OBE, in 1990 a Papal Knighthood, the highest award the Catholic Church can give; in 1996 he received a knighthood from the Queen.  During his lifetime he successfully dodged the occasional questions about his sexuality and liking for young girls. The only real flaw in his public profile came from the Louis Theroux documentary in 2000, in which he came across as strange and creepy to some viewers.

The victims

After collating more than 450 reports from individuals since the revelations in October 2012, there are currently 214 recorded allegations of abuse against Savile, covering 28 police force areas, and including 34 allegations of rape or penetration.

The likelihood is that these are not the only incidents in which Savile was involved.  Of the 450 reports some were deemed to have insufficient information to record an allegation, while in other cases the victims did not want their allegation pursued.  It is probably reasonably safe to assume there are other victims who have chosen to not come forward to give information or evidence, and, considering the time span and level of contact Savile had with hospital patients, there may be other victims who have already died.

Whatever the actual number of victims the majority appear to have been teenage girls between the ages of 13 and 16 at the time of the abuse, although the full age range is already known to be 8-47.  73% of victims were under 18 at the time of the offence.  82% of victims were female.

Allegations or fact?

Like it or not Jimmy Savile is no longer with us to answer these allegations.  He cannot be prosecuted and found guilty beyond all reasonable doubt, or found innocent in the presence of doubt.  The best conclusion is that of the police who have noted that the victims’ accounts paint a “compelling picture of widespread sexual abuse by a predatory sex offender”.

Taking into account the number of allegations made and the possibility there are many more incidents that have not been included, together with anecdotal comments by former colleagues, the probable outcome of a trial would be ‘guilty’.

In the words of Cdr Peter Spindler, who is leading the abuse probe, Savile had “groomed the nation”.

What next?

Questions are being asked about how such a prolific abuser could have got away with it for so long.  David Cameron’s official spokesman is quoted as saying it is “absolutely right that every institution involved gets to the bottom of what has gone on”.  Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt wants to be able to assure NHS patients that it would be “much, much harder” for abuse on such a scale to happen again by establishing whether NHS procedures were to blame, and that the scale of the challenge for the NHS investigation into Savile’s abuse on its premises was “absolutely huge” because it would cover a period of about 40 years.  Labour shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper called for “a proper overarching review led by child protection experts into why everyone failed to stop Savile and what should be done now”, and that “a myriad of small reviews and inquiries into how it could happen in different hospitals or the BBC are just not enough”.  Most of this is political posturing.

When a child dies or other significant event of public concern happens it is right that reviews and investigations are held in order for organisations and society to learn from what happened and work to prevent a tragedy from happening again.  But does that apply in this case?

Victims and lawyers are talking of “justice”, “closure” and “compensation”.  In the absence of a criminal court hearing those reviews may well be useful in handling those claims, especially against the BBC and the Savile estate, both of which are probably the most vulnerable to claims.

Past or future?

Reviews are about blame.  Those being blamed, whether individuals or organisations, naturally take the position of defence.  Conclusions are still drawn and recommendations for change made.  But analysing what went wrong forty or fifty years ago and trying to draw conclusions about it for today is not the way forward in the Savile case.

The data currently available shows that the vast majority of Savile’s acts of abuse occurred at a time when knowledge about, and attitudes towards, sexual abuse and the protection of the vulnerable, was vastly different and underdeveloped compared to today.

The 1960’s was about the growth of “free love”.  The 1970’s saw the development of the contraceptive pill and the acceptance of cohabitation, at a time when it was still called “living in sin”.  Women still regularly suffered sexual harassment in the workplace with no recourse for justice.  The crime of marital rape was not yet recognised in law.  Sexual abuse was hardly considered and child sexual abuse barely acknowledged.  Those families who knew of the ‘unusual interests’ of one of their members monitored their behaviour and protected the children in their family and wider network as best they could.

That is not to say any of that was right, it’s just how it was.  Had Jimmy Savile been successfully prosecuted in those decades he would have found much less controversy than we are seeing now.

The way forward?

For better or worse we are now living in the 21st Century.  This is no longer the 1960’s and 1970’s.  Some things have not changed.  Children are born, people get sick or grow old and die.  Divisions of wealth and poverty remain.  We know paedophiles existed then and we know they exist today.  But there are new ways in which they have to operate.  The internet did not exist 50 years ago.  Social media did not connect people thousands of miles apart in anonymous intimacy.  Families and communities are more fragmented, leaving the vulnerable more vulnerable than they were fifty or more years ago.

Instead of wallowing in what went wrong in the past we need to be looking at the now and toward the future. We don’t need blame oriented investigations to look at whether or not a Savile type reign of abuse could be happening today.  Instead we need to be asking how well today’s preventative measures are working.

The exception in the Savile case is the Crown Prosecution Service which has made a start in publishing their review.  It was right that they should investigate their failure to act in 2009.  It was only three years ago.  Their prompt response, apology and pledge for enhanced information sharing and additional training for prosecutors is to be applauded.

But what of the rest?

Today Jimmy Savile would have to have a CRB check to visit children’s homes and hospital wards.  But does the Enhanced CRB check system work?  Personally I have my reservations about a system that depends on records of someone having been reported, investigated or prosecuted.  Most paedophiles have long reigns of abuse before they would fail an Enhanced CRB check.

News media should be asking themselves, honestly, what they would do now if they became aware of allegations against a famous and apparently much loved public figure.  Some quarters of the media might leap at the chance of such an exposure but could they also be persuaded to ‘suppress’ a similar story today?  Especially if their reports would damage well established charities and institutions.

What of the BBC?  They are looking pretty bad at the moment.  Operating as a private company they are not only facing the Savile crisis they are also under pressure from negative press for their actions in encouraging their ‘stars’ to operate ‘companies’ that enable both the stars and the BBC as their employers to avoid their income tax obligations.  But they can still ask themselves some hard questions.  How would management respond today if they had reason to believe that any of their employees with access to children and vulnerable adults had improper motives?

Public and private institutions, including private and NHS hospitals, care homes and schools, should all be adhering to current safeguarding legislation.  Each and every one should check their systems for reporting abuse and suspicions of abuse.  Does their culture deter whistle blowing?  What would happen if a member of staff reported concerns regarding not only another member of staff but of visitors too, whether friends, family or respected members of the public?

In some of Savile’s cases professionals were guilty of suspecting or knowing what was going on.  Again we need to take into account the period in which these things happened and how professionalism, particularly of the nursing and child care professions, has changed since the 1960’s and 1970’s.  The expectations, training, values and ethics of all the professions have developed and moved on since that time.  Hopefully for the better.  However, as their employing organisations look at how they would respond to such a high profile case today, professionals need to have a voice in those considerations.

As members of the public we should all be asking ourselves how we would respond if we suspected someone of carrying out abuse.  Would we ignore it, think it someone else’s responsibility, not consider it important enough?  Would we think, just because they were famous, they could not be guilty?  Or are we prepared to accept the evidence when presented?  As adults are we willing to take responsibility for ourselves, our vulnerable members and our children?  Parents sometimes make the difficult decision to drop charges in order to protect their child from the traumas of giving evidence and potential publicity.  How as a society do we respond to their very valid concerns?  But it goes beyond these questions.  Are we concerned about how the media presents the sexuality of children and exposes our children at ever younger ages to sexualised attitudes and material?  These are just some of the questions we should be asking ourselves.

Could our nation be “groomed” by a charismatic eccentric today?

Data and quotes taken from the plethora of reports on various UK news websites, including the BBC, and Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Savile).

Turning Tides – maybe

Following the Conneticut massacre, and amidst the debates on gun law and gun controls in the US, a quote recently appeared on Facebook:

Reagan quoteAt first glance it might seem that Reagan has a good point, but is it that simple?  Certainly over the years there has been a move towards ‘rights’ rather than ‘responsibilities’ and a decline in the individual being held accountable for their actions, as excuses are made, “he had a bad childhood”, “she was drunk”.

Coming from a different angle, members of the Australian Social Workers’ Association produced a cartoon several years ago.  A small group of professionals: social workers, teachers, police, and medical professionals, were depicted with the caption, “We are responsible for the death of that child.”  The second image was of a large group of people representing society as a whole with the caption, “We are responsible for the death of that child.”  The final picture was of a stereotypical “bad man”, with the caption, “It was my hands that beat the life out of that child.  But I am not responsible for her death.”  If anyone still has a copy of that cartoon (with the accurate quotes), I would love to have a copy to post here.

That cartoon was a reflection on how social workers experienced society’s reaction via the media following a serious incident, usually leading to the death of a vulnerable person.  It wasn’t an unrealistic depiction.  In the UK, when a child dies, enquiries are held, files are analysed, professionals are interviewed and individuals, in this case the professionals, are held accountable for their role and actions.  Often though, it is only the front line social workers who are subjected to castigation in the press.  Maybe it’s because health professionals and the police are seen as the “good guys” they are permitted a little failing occasionally.  Nobody wants a social worker calling at their door.  When the mother of one of the 10 year old boys who shockingly murdered Jamie Bulger in Liverpool back in 1993 said, “I told the (education) welfare (my son) wasn’t in school”, her words were reported but little comment was added as to her role in her son’s generally poor school attendance.  Society, as presented through the media, is selective about the individuals who are called accountable for their actions.

The tide may be turning a little.  Following the death of Baby P in England in London, England, in 2007, the enquiries were still held, the role of the professionals still investigated, but with a tone of shock there was recognition in the media that the parents of Baby P committed the actual neglect and abuse against their son and did their utmost to lie to and conceal the truth from the professionals who were engaged in trying to ensure their son’s safety and welfare.

The individual should be accountable for his actions[1].  But what of the role of society?  In the words of John Donne, “No man is an island.”  Individuals are members of society, together they make up society.  Society makes the laws that enable society to function as a whole.  Perpetrators of crimes are members of society.  Relatives, friends and neighbours of perpetrators of crime are members of society.  Among them will be some who recognise laws are being broken, criminal acts are being committed, that the human rights of other individuals are being violated.  Society as a whole has a role to play in the prevention of transgressions against society, not least because unless they do the “professionals” may not know there is a problem until it is too late.

Shortly after the Connecticut shootings, my heart went out to the woman who wrote her blog entitled “I am Adam Lanza’s mother”[2].  Not literally, but metaphorically.  Her own child has serious behaviour problems.  At times he is a sweet natured child.  At other times he becomes a monster.  She knows, as his mother, that her soon to be adolescent son will be a risk to society when he is an adult.  He could be the next Adam Lanza.  She has sought the help of professionals and has received and accepted the help given.  But under existing US legislation no-one, including her, can prevent her son from refusing to take his medication (which regularly happens) or one day going out and legally buying guns that are readily available in supermarkets, shopping malls and downtown stores, and using those guns to maim and destroy.

Professionals, whether front line workers, managers, employers, are society’s representatives, doing the work of society, to protect the vulnerable members of society on behalf of society.  They are also members of society themselves.  They have the responsibility to do their jobs to the best of their ability within the guidelines of their profession and the laws of their country.  They have the responsibility to make proper use of supervision to discuss cases and work related issues, to recognise and understand their strengths and weaknesses, and to identify new or refresher training to help them in their work.  Their employers have the responsibility to ensure that supervision and training are properly provided and that workers are not exposed to unrealistic work expectations and caseloads.  They are society at work.

Society as a whole may not be guilty when individuals choose to break individual laws.  But modern society is a fluid entity, impacted on by outside forces beyond its control, a changing thing that as a whole has a duty to protect its own welfare, for the sake of future society.  When it becomes obvious that society’s norms and laws are not protecting society in some way, and society chooses not to respond, leaving more laws to be broken, more crimes to be committed, more individuals to be harmed, more lives to be lost, then society is guilty of not protecting itself or its members.

This is the challenge facing the US today.  Each time innocent children get killed in a school shooting, society has to ask itself if that shooting could have been prevented and how.  Restrictions on gun ownership; more security in schools; more guns in schools to prevent shootings in schools (as proposed by the NRA); better recognition of mental health problems and better mental health care, particularly for the poor and uninsured: just some of the options up for discussion.

If society as a whole does not succeed in coming to some kind of resolution that works when problems such as this arise, then society as a whole may be considered guilty by default of not taking action to prevent the law being broken, and harm being done, in the future.


[1] There may be exceptions, such as victims of certain crimes.  For example, someone who is exposed to the drug scopolamine loses all power of individual thought and can be easily persuaded to carry out crimes on behalf of another person.  Like the date rape drug Rohypnol it may be given to the victim without their knowledge.

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