I have a great deal of sympathy and support for the teaching union claiming that children are growing up too early because of the pressures placed on them by advertisers and commerce.

It is an issue I’ve covered here regularly in recent months and the National Union of Teachers is obviously right in stating that advertising which targets children should be more tightly controlled because it encourages poor diets and general ill-health.

Equally, there are valid points made by the NUT’s general secretary Steve Sinnott in claiming that it is dangerous and morally suspect for retailers to target children with pole dancing kits, lingerie more traditionally associated with the adult market and t-shirts with provocative logos.

But the pressure on making our children grow up too early is far more widespread.

The clamour to ensure children as young as three or four get nursery school places, the critical testing that is taking place at such a young age, the myriad education initiatives and schemes this particular Government has introduced over the last decade which has effectively seen pupils and young students acting as guinea pigs for untried and unpopular reforms, all contribute to the burden we are constantly placing on the youngest generation.

Yet at the same time they are lambasted at every opportunity – everything from the hoodies “menace” and anti-social behaviour to the fact that examinations are getting easier and the standard of students is getting lower.

Such constant criticism also adds to the pressure we are placing on these children.

There seems to be a growing realisation and acceptance of this fact, yet precious little in the way of recognition of what we need to do as a society to resolve such issues.

We now expect our children to do too much too young and when they cannot cope we blame them rather than ourselves for harbouring such unrealistic expectations and unhealthy attitudes.

When did it become unfashionable to allow youngsters to enjoy their childhood for as long as possible?

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