Central planning does not work with the economy and it does not work with health either. It is always ironic when the pious pontifications of experts and heavy-handed government departments are shown to make no difference.

We live in probably the safest time ever in human history yet we are led to believe that danger is everywhere. This is largely due to the capacity of the news media to beam any misfortune from around the world live into our homes. This can result in people being scared of things that could never possibly happen to them on the loose notion of “this could happen to you”.

Much effort is directed into safety campaigns. Some of this is useful but like all things in life too much is not better. Rules for swimming pool fences have become more and more strict. It has gone from having a fence around the property to having a separate fence around the pool and from having a gate to having a self-closing gate. Each time a child has drowned the call goes out for tighter restrictions.

So drowning rates should be going down –right? Figures show that drowning is at a seven year high. The total figure of 314 is not huge compared to other causes of death and of these only 35 were in back yard pools. However there was a 35% increase compared to the five year average despite education campaigns and law changes.

Fences are fine but they are not the entire answer or deaths would be dropping. The paradox is that the more people feel that the law is sorting it out or that vigilance can be seconded to a gate the less they watch their children. The only reason a child under the age of five drowns is that they have been left unsupervised for long enough. It is unfashionable to talk of responsibility but when it comes to children drowning it is not a lack of fencing but a lack of vigilance that is the problem. Hence no amount of fencing solves the problem.

The other mortal danger is sex. Countless campaigns are run about sexually transmitted infections and the dangers thereof. Nobody appears to be listening. Year 12 and 10 girls are more sexually active than a decade ago according to a major survey by La Trobe University. The rates in boys have not changed that much in 10 years. Knowledge of safe sex remains unchanged in a decade. The biggest factor claimed to be driving this behavior was alcohol consumption. Once again, millions of dollars spent on government programs, and not only no “improvement”, but a “worsening” of the numbers.

Teenagers having sex is not new. Indeed our ancestors had sex at younger ages then we do today. Sex education is the primary role of parents and secondarily schools. The same applies to learning about how to manage alcohol.

There is a view that governments can protect us from everything by passing laws. They cannot. There is no law that can protect the individuals from their own actions. The two examples above demonstrate this. In turn this means the answer is not government action to keep us safe but individual responsibility for what we do.