Blog Post

Study Says Selfish Parents Ruin Childhood

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Writer   A landmark study conducted in England finds that the “me first” attitude of adults is causing a variety of problems for children, including family breakdown, education issues, a growing gap between rich and poor, unkindness among teens and increasingly sexualized advertising directed at children.  According to a report in London’s Telegraph, the two year investigation by The Children Society was based on interviews with 35,000 children and professionals and found that the aggressive pursuit of individual success by adults today is the greatest threat to our children. "This landmark report is a wake-up call to us all,” said Bob Reitemeier, chief executive of The Children's Society. “In many ways our children have never lived so well. And yet there is widespread unease that somehow their lives are fast becoming more difficult than they ought to be. "There is unease about the unprecedented speed with which children's lives are changing; the commercial pressures they face; the violence they are exposed to; the rising stresses of school; the increased emotional distress they feel. "There is one common theme that links all these problems: excessive individualism. This is the widespread belief among adults that the prime duty of the individual is to make the most of their own life, rather than to contribute to the lives of others." Not unlike the continental U.S., emotional and behavioral problems among British children have risen from 10 per cent in 1986 to 16 per cent now. Children in broken homes are 50 per cent more likely to suffer problems at school or become depressed. In addition, almost a quarter of young people in Britain live in households below the poverty line. A third of 16-year-olds in Britain live apart from their fathers, while the country has the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Western Europe and the age at which women lose their virginity has dropped from 21 to 16 in less than 50 years. Children spend an average of 21 hours a week watching television or playing video games, which makes them a target for unscrupulous advertisers who peddle junk food and other unhealthy products with sexually suggestive commercials. The study blames these problems on the growth of a struggle for personal status and success, which it says has filled the vacuum created by the decline of religious belief and community spirit. Lord Richard Layard, a Labour peer who wrote the final report, told the Telegraph: "You have a decline in religious belief and a decline in what you may call socialism, that kind of social solidarity which was quite strong in the first half of the 20th century." In order to improve children's well-being, the report makes a variety of recommendations from asking for more governmental support for children with mental health problems to banning all advertising aimed at children under 12 years. It is also recommending that parents make a long-term commitment to each other and to hold a civil birth ceremonies even if they are not religious. The Children's Society intends to publish an index of children's wellbeing twice a year to measure progress towards its goals. © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly/Women of Grace.