Did we get too complacent?

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THE tragic death of Bethany Adcock from misadventure - after inhaling gas from an aerosol is just that - a tragedy.

But it is a tragedy that can befall any teenager or child who indulges in aerosol abuse.

A decade ago there was a worrying surge in the number of youngsters experimenting and dying from solvent and aerosol abuse.

It resulted in a wide awareness-raising campaign and the birth of advice and helpline organsiations.

Today, maybe society has become complacent again, because the evidence presented at Bethany’s inquest yesterday suggests that she was not alone.

A mini-craze was taking place at her school where youngsters were indulging in abuse to get a high.

Sadly for Bethany and her family, she became a victim - but the truth is it could have been any of her peers. Medical evidence suggests that the effects of solvent abuse are indiscriminate - one day a child may suffer no after-effects, but the next it could be fatal.

Today we publicise details of warning signs every parent should be aware of should they suspect their child of solvent abuse.

But we also call on the Government and education authorities to resurrect their awareness campaigns.

Bethany’s family are devastated by the loss of their daughter - which may have been avoided if more was done to make youngsters aware of the dangers.

Home ownership drives inequality

IT is no secret that home ownership for first-time buyers is becoming more a distant dream than ever.

It has given rise to a vibrant rented property market with families unable to save enough to pay for a mortgage.

That trend has been accentuated with data from the 2011 Census showing home ownership in Sheffield has fallen from 60.15 per cent to 58.7 per cent - a figure some way below the national average of 64 per cent.

The trend is a worrying one - especially when there are real concerns about the state of the private rented sector.

In Sheffield the number of new house building completions has fallen from a peak of 2,882 in 2007-8 to just 919 in 2010-11, with the number of affordable homes provided at just 21 in the last three years.

We need to see a creative solution to help more people to become house owners - and to improve the stock of private housing.

Home ownership is a critical issue in this city which drives a widening gap of inequality in our society.