Author Neil Gaiman wrote recently about a lecture he attended organised by private prison operators in New York. In planning for future capacity needs, the industry employed a simple test – the percentage of 10- and 11-year-old children in any district with acute literacy problems.
The link between educational underachievement, social empowerment and drug crime is real and complex. Using simplistic or evocative language does not inform the discussion. It turns a public policy emergency into comic-book-style pseudo-entertainment. We must ask why Ireland has a parallel economy of a drug trade which attracts and empowers so many.
That the drug industry flourishes in Ireland is unsurprising: 30 per cent of disadvantaged children have basic reading problems; almost one-fifth of our adult population are functionally illiterate; 25 per cent of young mothers in poorer areas suffer from maternal depression; and 21 per cent of children go to school or to bed hungry.
To read more of this article published in the Irish Times click here.