Archbishop Warns of Child Crisis

{mosimage}Family separations and commercial pressures are causing a crisis in modern childhood, the Archbishop of Canterbury has warned. Dr Rowan Williams says a new generation of young parents fail to offer the right example to their children who, in turn, are becoming “infant adults”. His comments come as an inquiry is launched into the state of childhood by the Children’s Society. But fertility expert Lord Winston said lack of data made comparisons hard. The Children’s Society is concerned about rising levels of child depression in the UK. The independent inquiry is looking at all aspects of childhood amid growing concern over the health and quality of children’s’ lives. Bob Reitmeier, the chief executive of the charity, said a period of reflection was needed to review the changed status of childhood, which had altered dramatically in terms of new technologies and a more diverse population.

Lord Winston welcomed the study, saying: “It’s all very well to say that childhood depression in greatly on the increase but there’s no data to support that, which why an initiative like this would be useful. But it is important to point out this is the first such study of its kind.

“The very fact that previous studies have not been done means that we don’t have anything to compare the present time with,” he told BBC News.

BBC social affairs correspondent Kim Catcheside said the archbishop’s comments about “infant adults” was a reference to those parents who “having been deprived of a caring childhood themselves, are incapable of giving their own children the love and discipline they need”.

The Children’s Society is concerned about a climate of “fear and confusion” amongst young people, she added.

The charity points to higher levels of depression and mental illness in the country than elsewhere in the European Union.

The Archbishop’s comments come a week after dozens of teachers joined children’s authors and psychologists to write a letter to the Daily Telegraph, in which they highlighted “the escalating incidence of childhood depression”.

They warned that poor diet, restricting exercise, putting children in “academic straitjackets”, and dressing them like “mini adults” was stifling the natural creativity of many youngsters.

Signitories included children’s writers Philip Pullman and Jacqueline Wilson, scientist Baroness Greenfield, former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo, child care expert, Dr Penelope Leach and environmentalist Sir Jonathan Porritt.
She said, “We have been working closely with the unions to come to a satisfactory conclusion on this issue and have increased the fees for independent care homes as of April, with further increases in October.

“Although this is still lower than the Welsh average, we are working in line with other authorities.”