How would you feel about being given parenting lessons?

Britain’s top public health expert thinks the Government should step in to give fathers, mothers and guardians lessons on how to raise their kids

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The government should give parents lessons on how to raise their children, according to Britain's leading public health expert.

Professor John Ashton, the outgoing president of the Faculty of Public Health, said today's children are being neglected by “sweatshop” schools and bad parents.

In an interview with The Times, he said the state needs to intervene to help avoid the next generation being crippled by conditions such as anxiety, anorexia and obesity.

Professor Ashton added that one in 10 children has a mental health problem, and a poor relationship with parents is among the main causes.

He said: "We've done remarkably well in terms of producing live, healthy babies over the last 60, 70 years, but, by the time children are leaving school, between 10% and 15% of them are in trouble emotionally or mentally, and (suffer from) things like obesity, eating disorders, anxiety and stress.

"So having produced healthy babies we then set about neglecting them. I can't imagine a sensible farmer doing this with livestock."

Professor Ashton went onto tell The Times that to prevent children from turning to online pornography, parents should talk to their children about sex at the breakfast table.

"We've still got the Victorian prudery legacy and if you don't answer children's questions openly when they're small, to create the building blocks for more mature conversations later on, they won't ask you things when they get to puberty," he said.

It comes after a study found the majority of children are exposed to porn by their early teens, leaving many at risk of becoming "desensitised" to its impact.

Around 53% of 11 to 16-year-olds have encountered lewd material online, nearly all of whom (94%) have seen it by the age of 14, according to research published today by Middlesex University.


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  • Guest
    Realist Wednesday, 15 June 2016

    Academia vs Real Life ...

    Interesting point of view. Professor Ashton seems to be living in a different world to the rest of us. A sweeping statement indeed: “… today’s children are being neglected by “sweatshop” schools and bad parents”, charming. Yes there are bad parents but there are far more decent parents.

    You can’t teach someone how to be a parent, it’s ridiculous to assume that you can. This belongs in the same bracket as the ‘parenting books’. Does he believe that the fact we’ve managed to 'parent' throughout history is down to some form of ‘luck’?

    We now live in a world free of world wars and the most serious of diseases, the majority of the western world is at peace and has been for a very long time. So can one assume parents must be doing something right in bringing up their children?

    Using the analogy of a farmer and his livestock tells me that he’s really not in the real world. Sure there are problems and it is true they need to be addressed but parenting classes will simply not work. These are the facts: we were made to propagate and in that sense we have an in-built parental button that gets pushed and then we ‘get on with it’, we look at our own parents and grandparents and take our marker from them, usually in the form of disseminating their good points and bad points and then applying our own.

    We’ll make mistakes sure, many of us will feel we're bad parents from time to time, but because most of us love our children we get there, eventually.

    And as for the talking about sex around the breakfast table! I think he needs to come to our house and see if that works, if I bought the subject of sex up around the breakfast table (during the mayhem of getting kids ready and trying to get to work), our kids would probably fall into one of two camps, the girls would probably be physically sick and the boys would laugh their heads off. Oh, and of course me ending up being scolded by my wife for talking about such a subject at a ridiculous time of day.

    Of course there are times to talk about these things but breakfast time isn’t one of them. Another example of an academic who theories but doesn’t understand the practicalities. I wonder if he actually has children?

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