Controversial issues: guidance for schools
1. Young people's fear and concerns
The conflicts and controversies of adult life can leave young people feeling confused, as the war in Iraq clearly shows. Why are these things happening? Where do they stand on the issues? Where ought they to stand?
It can also leave them feeling fearful and concerned. This is especially so in cases where violence - potential or actual - is involved, and where members of their family and community are directly or indirectly affected.
In other cases, young people may feel so strongly about an issue that they wish to take some form of action. How can they make their voice heard? What forms of political action are open to young people? How far should they go? What support, if any, can they expect from their school?
Many schools actively endorse pupil participation in school and community issues - letters to MPs, discussions with local councillors, etc. How far does this support extend?
Not all young people react to events in the same way, of course. They can be as divided over an issue as adults. How do they cope when peers express strong views diametrically opposed to their own?