Monday, April 20, 2009

The limitations of social-engineering

Over at The Standard they are applauding the "It's Not OK" campaign because it has "been hugely successful. In a survey, 99% of Maori, 90% of Pacific people, and 90% of all those asked remembered the campaign."

Probably the same the same can be said of the "If you drink and drive you're a bloody idiot," or the "Every cigarette is doing you damage," campaigns.

Yet the drinking and driving stats are not looking very flash. The percentage of fatal crashes with alcohol/drugs as a factor has been fairly steady over the ten years to 2007;

1997 27%
1998 27
1999 23
2000 26
2001 26
2002 26
2003 31
2004 31
2005 30
2006 28
2007 31

Self-reported use of tobacco statistics are unreliable but consumption of tobacco is not;

New research suggests the government may have been over optimistic when it said that smoking is decreasing.

Last year's New Zealand Health Survey showed for the first time that just under 20% of adults smoked.

But a study published in the New Zealand medical journal disputes those figures, saying the number of cigarettes released to the market actually increased by 7%.

It says smokers tend to under report their smoking and future health surveys should include biochemical tests of a smoker's status.

Now I know that drinking and driving/smoking has reduced from the 1980s and early nineties. If that was an effect of advertising, today, at best, the advertising may be said to be having a containing effect. The Standard will argue that the "It's Not OK" campaign can have the same early effect because it is something new.

But it isn't. There have been a number of police and Women's Refuge anti-domestic violence campaigns. There was the high profile anti-family violence campaign "Breaking the cycle" in the second half of the nineties. Don't try and tell us that we have only just been given 'the message' that domestic violence is not OK.

I wonder if all these hugely expensive tax-payer funded media campaigns are just glorified make-work schemes. I also wonder if they don't sometimes provoke an emotional backlash.

One thing is clear - getting the message is not the same thing as acting it on. Apart from an increase in reporting I do not expect the "It's not OK" campaign to effect a decrease in domestic violence. Not while we keep on turning out ever more culprits with welfare-created families.


Redbaiter said...

What sort of a society is it when we apparently must rely upon government to issue such moral instruction???

wino said...

I still feel that it is peer pressure more than any other education or ads that has cut any smoking or drink driving numbers. In the days when you could smoke at your office desk half office staff seemed to smoke, these days there's one or two standing out in the cold. I believe domestic violence is the same - the peer pressure for victims to leave abusive relationships and perpetrators to stop is what causes the change IMO, we (as a society) now just need to get the it is NEVER okay message ingrained in all. No excuses ever.