Question of a balanced approach!

SIR - Whilst appreciating the need to draw attention to this alarming and rapidly growing trend and appreciating that the ‘Oh no, not in Sidmouth’ mentality may need a short, sharp shock into reality at times. I am mortified that this matter has been handled in this manner.

I am 41 years of age, my mother is 62 years of age and my aunt in her latter years and we had absolutely no idea how to ‘sniff gas’ until we were educated, rather graphically, and advised what and where to purchase the items necessary to undertake this activity (whether we wished to be or not) by your front page. My daughter, however, at 12, is now fully aware, thanks to the Sidmouth Herald front page. You will appreciate that it is far easier to vet the contents of the paper than the front cover and that the word “thrill” is like a readers’ eye magnet, however, used especially to the young, adventurous, curious side of human nature.

At home, we do not have Facebook, we have TV and computer parental controls to limit awareness of things which are best handled through drug awareness at school or, in our case, through family members in Social Services and the police service. Many families do not have these in place or have children whose technical, computer knowledge far outweighs their own and whose children will now also be aware how and where to purchase these items required.

I am in support of the public at large being armed with the facts and knowledge to recognise the signs, the danger, the side effects and to, therefore, be able to be vigilant and help the community address this as a whole.

On a lighter note, I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of this week’s Herald (as is usual) and had the added pleasure of playing “Where’s Wally” with Stuart Hughes, who, due to his deservedly well-publicised active role in and in support of the local community (as is usual of this wonderfully colourful, at times rather vocal man) he appeared rather often!

Sara Millard.

via email

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ED: You make a perfectly reasonable and understandable point, Sara. The dilemma, of course, is striking that balance between making the public aware of an explicit danger and, alternatively, not providing so much information that the ‘danger’ contains an inherent attraction. Your letter makes the subjective point that, on this occasion, we may not have struck that balance correctly and we would welcome the views of others on this important subject.