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David Baxter

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Modern life leads to more depression among children
12/09/2006
Letter to the editor, The Telegraph

Sir - As professionals and academics from a range of backgrounds, we are deeply concerned at the escalating incidence of childhood depression and children?s behavioural and developmental conditions. We believe this is largely due to a lack of understanding, on the part of both politicians and the general public, of the realities and subtleties of child development.

Since children?s brains are still developing, they cannot adjust ? as full-grown adults can ? to the effects of ever more rapid technological and cultural change. They still need what developing human beings have always needed, including real food (as opposed to processed ?junk?), real play (as opposed to sedentary, screen-based entertainment), first-hand experience of the world they live in and regular interaction with the real-life significant adults in their lives.

They also need time. In a fast-moving hyper-competitive culture, today?s children are expected to cope with an ever-earlier start to formal schoolwork and an overly academic test-driven primary curriculum. They are pushed by market forces to act and dress like mini-adults and exposed via the electronic media to material which would have been considered unsuitable for children even in the very recent past.

Our society rightly takes great pains to protect children from physical harm, but seems to have lost sight of their emotional and social needs. However, it?s now clear that the mental health of an unacceptable number of children is being unnecessarily compromised, and that this is almost certainly a key factor in the rise of substance abuse, violence and self-harm amongst our young people.

This is a complex socio-cultural problem to which there is no simple solution, but a sensible first step would be to encourage parents and policy-makers to start talking about ways of improving children?s well-being. We therefore propose as a matter of urgency that public debate be initiated on child-rearing in the 21st century this issue should be central to public policy-making in coming decades.

Professor Peter Abbs, University of Sussex
Liz Attenborough, Manager, Talk to Your Baby Campaign
Robin Balbernie, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist
Jean Barlow, Teacher Consultant, Rochdale Children?s Trust
Sally Barnes, Writer and consultant on early years education
Geoff Barton, Headteacher, King Edward VI School, Suffolk
Camilla Batmanghelidjh, Founder, Kids Club
Virginia Beardshaw, CEO, I CAN
 

non_existence

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Sep 27, 2006
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that's so true.
the problem is that when new ideas are implemented, it's impossible to figure out the full implications of what effects it'll have and how it'll combine with other things. everything is so out of control.
 

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