UK Public Health Head Calls for Government Parenting Classes

(Photo: Wikimedia, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Wikimedia, Creative Commons)

Outgoing UK Faculty of Public Health Professor John Ashton said parents in the country should be provided with lessons on how to raise their children. He added that it is the government's responsibility to assist the next generation, many of whom suffer from anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.

Ashton's comments were very close to what Prime Minister David Cameron announced in January, which was that classes in parenting should be a natural staple, writes Elisabeth Perlman for Newsweek.

Professor Ashton continued by noting that parents should begin to be more open with their children and stop avoiding the discussion of difficult subjects with them.

"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 told The Times.

More than 21,000 teenagers in the UK land in hospitals for self-harming, while the number was just 12,000 a decade ago. Up to one in ten youngsters between five and 16 have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, says Young Minds, a British children's charity.

"Everyone needs support when they become a parent," Nick Harrop, campaigns manager at YoungMinds said. "Whether the information comes from a friend, a family member, a nurse or a local children's center, knowing how to help your child emotionally is crucial for their mental wellbeing. It's important that support programmes for parents are well designed."

A UK-based group that assists young people, The Self-Esteem Team, has been providing help for kids in need. Grace Barrett, the organization's co-founder, says that the group has had classes for parents, teachers, and teenagers for years. The classes, she added, act as a way to begin conversations that work to change parents' perspectives.

Today's technological advances make it even more important for parents to be educated. Mothers and fathers are guiding and supporting their kids through a world that is significantly different than the one in which they were raised.

The UK Faculty of Public Health Medicine has published a report showing that mental health improvements are needed because mental, emotional, and psychological problems are occurring more often than all physical health difficulties, according to the BBC.

Ashton explains that over the last 70 years, his country has done an excellent job at making sure healthy and live babies were being born. But by the time kids are graduating from secondary school, 10% to 15% of the young people are emotionally or mentally unhealthy.

Amy Packham of the UK Huffington Post writes that Ashton stated parents who talk to their children about sex will prevent their young ones from turning to pornography online. Siobhan Freegard, the founder of video parenting site Channel Mum, says that classes to teach parents about such topics are something with which she agrees.

Freegard added, however, that she was not sure that the Government was the right entity to deliver these classes. She calls the interference of politicians into the skills needed to raise children a "nanny state."

Friendly, positive guidance from grassroots groups like the UK's Home-Start and Parents First would help parents learn what they need to know about the most important jobs of their lives, she added.

06 18, 2016
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