19  It’s Not Fair!


 Is our system of law, the courts and justice fair? Where do ideas of ‘equal before the law’ come from? Is the idea of God needed to establish true ‘equality’ where all people are treated equally?

Inform students that, according to the 2010 Equalities Act, those in positions of authority have to take steps to reduce any inequalities that might result from decisions they take. In particular, there is a duty not to discriminate against people on account of certain characteristics. These are called ‘protected characteristics’ and they are: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

It is also part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that ‘All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law’ (Article 7). Explain that this principle of ‘fairness’ is particularly important to minorities and to the poor.


Show students a short TrueTube film about ‘Criminal Make-up’: https://www.truetube.co.uk/film/criminal-make

You may need to register to access materials on TrueTube (it’s free).

Explain that the criminal psychologist in this film appears to attribute crime to a combination of ‘genes’ and ‘upbringing’, but is he right?

Ask the students to respond to such questions as:


Make a space across your room so that students can stand along an imaginary line. Explain that this line is a ‘blame’ continuum: one end of the ‘line’ stands for the view that ‘people are completely to blame for their own crimes’ and the other for the view that ‘people are victims of their own genetic inheritance and upbringing and in no way to blame for what they do.’

Ask students to place themselves on the continuum according to their relative opinion on the question. Encourage them to explain any views or questions, and ask them to consider further questions such as:


Some people believe that justice is impossible in this life, and that only God can truly judge the rights and wrongs of a person’s life. Ask the students to reflect on the idea that a perfectly just society is impossible on earth.

A printable (pdf) version of this session can be found here

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