BBC Home Editor, Mark Easton's recent article
on the findings from UNICEF's latest report into the well-being of children and young people is a rather revealing read. In its latest report, UNICEF compared data up to 2010, highlighting the plight of young people in 29 of the richest countries.
In 2007, when comparisons were last reported, Britain came 21st out of 21 of the most developed countries and there was an outcry. This time (bring up the drum roll) Britain managed to achieve an improved rating, coming out an overall 11th.
Mark Easton has this to say about the rather gloomy responses from many quarters to the latest findings, which do identify some meaningful improvements among the stats, "It is a British trait to obsess about the bad without giving proper recognition to the good."
To a great extent, this comment probably does hold true but I think he hints at something else in his review about where we are in our society today. How are we to avoid arriving at polarised judgements in public and political debate? So often we are in danger of adopting the view that it has to be that one 'side' is all 'right' and the other 'wrong'. This is certainly an issue bedeviling the current debate over education reform which is threatening to delay the implementation of real, lasting change that we can all live with in the years ahead.
Are we unable to weigh issues more subtly? Can we not reach more balanced opinions to reflect the challenge of addressing the interpretive quality of much of the data we handle?