Does having policies and laws affect people’s behaviours and values positively?

This month’s inequality debate question was ‘Does having policies and laws affect people’s behaviours and values positively?’. This debate received a HUGE 135 answers so far! Thank you to everyone who was part of our biggest debate yet.

We had some people who thought that laws and policies positively influence behaviour, some who disagreed and some others who were in the middle and thought it varied between different laws and policies.

Here’s a summary of what was discussed:

Yes: laws and polices definitely do positively impact behaviours

“Yes, I think having policies and laws does impact people’s behaviour in a positive way. I think they are important however, parents are so important in teaching their children positive values and behaviour.” – Megan

“They are good because they enable people to be respected whether rich or poor, old or young” – Steven Uganda

“They create peace and joy among people” – Mugoya, Uganda

“They impart discipline in for example if they go to prison they get out and start behaving well to avoid going back” – James, Uganda

“They restrict police officers from arresting people without doing anything wrong” – Florence, Uganda

“Yes they do for example if there policies and laws about climate and environmental conservation, gender equality, girl child education, early marriage, drug abuse among others, this will greatly shape people’s behaviour, traditional and cultural perspectives and thinking people have towards women and other issues affecting the country” – Daniel

“Yes! Because it  helps people to live in harmony and this avoids violence in society.” – Owori

No: laws and policies do not affect people’s behaviour positively

“NO`because here in Uganda we have laws but the law breakers are many.” – Fatah

“I disagree. By having laws we give up responsibility for our actions and give the power to the state. But it also helps to stop some acts that would harm others as people fear consequences. If we have a world of people only stopping themselves from harming others out of fear of the consequences are we really evolved as people?” Henry

Maybe: it depends on which laws and policies are being spoken about

“Yes, they provide a general framework for right and wrong in terms of values/morals. However, many policies and laws are unjust and can provide controversial or negative values.” – Guest, Canada

“Good laws lead to good behaviour but poorly executed laws can lead to people disregarding them because they are impossible to enforce.” – Lis, UK

“even though we have policies without people understanding them it is  useless” – Denis, Uganda

“yes generally laws and policies affect people’s behaviours positively. However, many laws are old and outdated and need reviewing to fit in with our more liberal and modern world.” – Hannah, UK

“I think that it can depend on how the laws are designed in order to influence positive behaviour – if they are encouraged positively & the benefits of adhering to them are positive then I think yes” – Emma, UK

“They can be the first steps – but need so much follow up work!” – A friend from the UK

Ideas about how laws and policies could be improved:

Daniel, UK said: “How would it be better to stop these people breaking the laws? Is it the laws aren’t good enough in the first place or something else?”

Fatah replied saying: “This is a good point too. If corruption is stopped, then we shall be able to stop the lawbreakers bribe the law, peace makers.

Additionally, Veronika said: “It’s worth thinking about who creates the laws and what impact they have on specific groups in societies. Legislation about gender-specific issues – eg sexual & reproductive health – needs to be informed by women’s voices.”

Conclusion

Overall, most people involved in the debate felt that laws and policies do affect people’s behaviours positively but there were some really interesting suggestions about what this was dependent on. It seems that people would like to see laws that everyone can understand, that are updated often and for these to be effectively enforced, impacting everyone equally. We had some great conservations surrounding this month’s debate question, so we are excited to see what you think of next months question!

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