Feb 2, 2009
A study compiled for the Church of England-affiliated Children’s Society cites the fact that women are now less dependent on their husbands as a cause of family break-up and criticises the parents of young children for spending long hours at work and relying on childminders.
A report on the study published in the Sunday Telegraph describes an increase in the number of mothers going back to work when their babies are less than a year old as a ‘massive’ social change.
Its remarks on the causes of social breakdown are likely to attract controversy. “The context in which families live today in Britain is in many ways quite new, and this raises new challenges,” the report says.
“Compared with a century ago, two changes stand out: first, most women now work outside the home and have careers, as well as being mothers.
“Seventy per cent of mothers of nine-to-12-month-old babies now do some paid work, this compares with only 25 per cent 25 years ago – a massive change in the way of life.
“Meantime, the children are cared for by someone other than their parents.”
The second change, it says, is a sharp increase in marital break-up in recent decades.
“Women’s new economic independence contributes to this rise,” the report says.
“It has made women much less dependent on their male partner, as has the advent of the welfare state.
“As a result of increased break-up, a third of 16-year-olds in Britain now live apart from their biological father.”
The report, compiled by academics Lord Layard and Professor Judy Dunn, also claims that the quality of friendship among young people has declined as the so-called ‘Facebook generation’ spends more time in front of a screen than outside playing.
Among eye-catching recommendations contained in the report, A Good Childhood, is a call for new civil birth ceremonies for non-religious families, held at registration offices along the lines of weddings.
It recommends curbs on advertising targeting children under the age of 12 and the option for parents to take up to three years off work to care for their children without losing their jobs.