New Childhood Report

The Landmark Trust has released its new Childhood report. Put together by 10 experts, it was written by - who else - Lord Layard, the British government's happiness czar.

Speaking on the Today programme this morning, Layard suggested our culture has become far too individualistic and competitive, partly through Thatcherism, and this had led to neglected children, selfish parents, and schools that focus too much on tests and exam results.

I agree whole-heartedly that our schools have become far too focused on getting children to pass endless government tests, rather than making education holistic, and making sure it includes things like sports, acting, music, and other group endeavours. I also think Lord Layard is right to talk about teaching children how to understand and control their own emotions.

I'm not so sure about banning all advertising aimed at children. I'm just not convinced that advertising has that much effect on us, for all that advertisers and anti-advertisers say that it does. TV, magazines, the internet, cinema, music - I would argue these are more powerful influences. Seeing Lily Allen regularly drunk has far more influence on young people than a Bacardi advert.

The report was brave to take aim at single parents and broken homes. It made the alarming claim that children from single parent homes are 50% more likely to suffer from behavioural issues than children brought up by two parents.

This on the day that we discovered the proud mother of octuplets already has six children, no husband, and had the children via IVF treatment. The kids are likely to cost the US state around US$2mn, but the mother is now trying to mitigate the cost through advertising and sponsorship.