Teaching young people manners and an appreciation of other people’s feelings will improve Britain, according to one charity leader.
Shaun Bailey, co-founder of children’s charity MyGeneration, makes the claim as part of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s social evils initiative - currently exploring solutions to society’s ills through a series of commissioned Viewpoints. He claims: "The learning and teaching of manners is socialisation at the most basic level because it teaches our children that sometimes you have to give up your wants for somebody else’s needs."
His Viewpoint is published alongside one from author and journalist Anna Minton who approaches the same themes from a different perspective. Taking a critical look at why fear and distrust are increasing, she is convinced that government policies only tackle symptoms while causes are swept under the carpet, where they fester.
"Dependence on too much security all too often has counter-intuitive consequences," claims Minton. Pointing to the security industry as one of the few on the rise, she feels that the wide expansion of CCTV, gated communities and private security guards creates more fear instead of reducing it. She quotes Scottish Office research into CCTV which concluded that it decreases the ability of public spaces to have a genuinely ‘civilising’ or ‘civic’ impact on communities.
She uses the term "architecture of fear" to describe these developments: "The ever-present electronic eye on the street and attempts to ‘design out crime’ with features such as small windows, reinforced steel doors and single entry cul-de-sacs instead of traditional street patterns aim to address social problems by controlling the environment rather than improving social conditions," she concludes.
Giving the context to the social evils initiative, JRF director Julia Unwin says:"Our founder, Joseph Rowntree, wanted the trusts he set up to address society’s problems as they changed over time. Last year, thousands of people told us what concerned them most about Britain. This series of authors’ Viewpoints is taking the debate further by asking some of the UK’s great thinkers to explore potential solutions."
Following on from the five published so far, a further six social evils Viewpoints by a range of authors from across the political spectrum are due to be published before the end of the year.