Children’s rights fuelling crisis of adult authority

Parents and teachers are fuelling a “crisis of adult authority” by promoting children’s rights according to an academic from Derby University.

Professor Dennis Hayes told the Westminster Education Forum that involving children in making important decisions made adults appear “abject”.

Prof Hayes’ comments come in the wake of the new Education Bill which gives schoolchildren and their parents a series of 23 legal guarantees of what they can expect.

This includes the right for children to “have their say about standards of behaviour in the school”.

Many schools allow children to be on the interview panel for new members of staff.

Supporters of this approach claim that involving children in decisions will increase their bond to the school and result in children working harder and behaving better.

But Prof Hayes, addressing a gathering of teachers, civil servants and police said: “You are all professionals and you are saying that all you have to do is listen to young people.

“Well you are abandoning your jobs – your role as adults – and you will make education in the future impossible.”

Prof Hayes also warned that the abandonment of authority was leading parents to look for people to blame when things go wrong, instead of taking responsibility themselves.

In September a leading psychologist , Dr Aric Sigman, warned that attempts to empower children with more control over their lives are fuelling social problems.

His findings were revealed in his new book, The Spoilt Generation, which analyses 150 studies and reports, including official crime statistics and data on parenting strategies.

The research indicates that many social problems, including teenage pregnancy and anti-social behaviour, are due to a lack of discipline.

Dr Sigman called for “commonsense policies” to help children. He said: “There should be an absolute presumption both in law and in policy that adults ‘know better’ and are in the right unless there are exceptional reasons.”

Earlier this month a study by the left-leaning think-tank Demos revealed that children who receive ‘tough love’– a combination of warmth and discipline – from their parents have the best chance of doing well in life.

Tough love parenting proved far more beneficial to children than the alternatives, described by Demos as laissez-faire parenting, authoritarian parenting and disengaged (hands off) parenting.

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