Moral Panics and School Educational Policy  book cover
1st Edition

Moral Panics and School Educational Policy

ISBN 9780367594886
Published August 14, 2020 by Routledge
212 Pages

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Book Description

How do the moral panics that have plagued school education since it’s nineteenth-century beginnings impact current school education policy? Research has shown young people to be particularly vulnerable to moral panics and, with the rise of social media, the impact of moral panics on school education is growing exponentially. Increasingly, they are reaching into the highest levels of national governments and, so powerful are their effects, some politicians choose to orchestrate them for their own political ends. For many educational administrators, the management of the ‘fallout’ of moral panics has become a time-consuming part of their day, as well as being a problematic time for parents, teachers and students.

First developed by British and Canadian sociologists such as Stanley Cohen (1972), moral panic theory has evolved substantially since its early focus on adolescent deviant behaviour, and is now a part of common media talk. This book addresses the need for a single monograph on the topic, with reference to historical moral panics such as those associated with sexuality education, but also wider societal moral panics such as those associated with obesity. Teachers, students, indeed all members of school communities, along with educational administrators and politicians can learn from this study of the impact of moral panics on school educational policy.

Table of Contents




Acronyms and Abbreviations


Chapter 1. Moral panic theory and school education

Chapter 2. Alcohol and illicit drug education

Chapter 3. Physical fitness and obesity

Chapter 4. Sexuality education

Chapter 5. Racism and Islamophobia

Chapter 6. Pedagogy and curriculum

Chapter 7. Media and youth

Chapter 8. Teaching standards, assessment and testing regimes

Chapter 9. Buildings and school facilities

Chapter 10. Bringing it all together

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Grant Rodwell has worked as a school principal in Tasmania, and in various administrative and academic capacities at Australian universities, since the 1980s. He has published over fifty articles in international peer-reviewed journals, along with eight books. He holds five PhDs from Australian universities, and also is an internationally published novelist.


Moral panics and school education policy is a topic that has for some time been in need of serious study. This book goes a long way towards addressing the deficit and helps us examine education through a new lens. It should stimulate much debate as it delivers a perspective that unusual, stimulating and scholarly.

Professor Tom O'Donoghue, Graduate School of Education, The University of Western Australia