The charity Young Citizens has partnered with law firm Mishcon de Reya to produce free classroom resources designed to teach young people about the law. The Big Legal Lesson 2022 will include the very basics of law for primary students, and more intricate law relating to social media and privacy for older students.
Learning about the law can help young people more deeply understand the legal system, and even encourage some of them to go into careers related to the justice system. However, CEO of Young Citizens Ashley Hodges says that The Big Legal Lesson goes far beyond inspiring the next generation of solicitors.
“Every young person should understand their rights, responsibilities, and the rule of law, whether or not they go on to practice it,” Hodges says, “To build a fairer society, students and pupils need to have positive encounters with the legal system from an early age.”
Knowing and understanding the need for the law is an important part of education, and last year the Big Legal Lesson reached over 55,000 students. Of those students, 83% said that the programme “improved their understanding of the rule of law and why it is important.”
This year’s focus on social media, online privacy, and free speech for older students is a timely choice given the increasing amount of disinformation and privacy risks young people face on the internet. Understanding the value of free speech in an era where everyone with internet access can have a platform is vital, as is identifying the line between the right to speak one’s mind and dangerous statements designed to foster rage and incite real-world violence.
Teaching UK law from a young age can serve to demystify the system, taking it from an abstract, often scary threat of punishment to something tangible, to be engaged with and changed when necessary. Young Citizens hopes to give young people positive experiences with the legal system and a solid understanding of it from an early age.
“The Big Legal Lesson is a special way to do this,” Hodges says, “equipping teachers across the UK to offer an engaging, accessible starting point on the law and justice, building young people’s understanding and confidence to engage with the subject.”
The next iteration of The Big Legal Lesson education campaign will launch on March 14th, 2022.