Does education hold the key to ending violence in Australia?

In our previous blogs, we’ve talked about the growing trend of anti-social behaviour and violence, and the immense cost it has on our society – both financially and emotionally. It’s important to recognise this, but the next step is to implement programs that will slow down, stop and ultimately reverse this trend. There are many theories on how to do this, from harsher punishments and advertising campaigns to reduced trading hours and alcohol restrictions.

We strongly believe that one of the key ways in which we are going to see real change in society is through education. Education and awareness programs are a key step in combatting all sorts of anti-social behaviour, and the crime that often results from it.

Data has consistently supported the theory that education has a strong effect on reducing crime worldwide. For instance, Save the Children International published findings this year noting that for every year of successful schooling that a boy undertakes, the chance that he will be involved in a violent crime is reduced by 20%.

Additional research conducted in the U.S. by Columbia University has noted that if the completion rate of high school was brought up just 1% for men between the ages of 20 and 60, it could save the country around 1.4 billion per year in reduced crime costs. If education has that much of an effect on just 1% of the male population without a high school diploma, imagine what would happen if every child received one…

So why is education such a powerful crime-reduction tool?

Studies show that most criminal offenders do not have high school degrees. A lack of education often causes poor job prospects, poverty, discontentment, and substance abuse. It can also result in the undervelopment of critical thinking skills, a lack of empathy, and the inability to consider consequences. All of these factors are likely to contribute to anti-social, violent and/or criminal behaviour.

One of our key priorities as a nation should be to ensure that every Australian receives a good education. But there is also an opportunity to introduce specific education and awareness programs that help our children/teenagers understand the difference between appropriate and anti-social behaviour; the impact of violence; our individual responsibility as a part of our society; and the consequences of our actions.

If we do this successfully, we may find that education is indeed the key to ending violence in Australia.