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Exactly. Perhaps in my frustration I sounded if I was blaming the children, but that wasn't what I meant, although I agree with Graham that even if it is not ultimately the child's fault, there does come a time when the child or at least the adolescent must begin to take responsibility for their own behaviour. It is almost always true that many of these children CAN behave when it suits them and at that point they are choosing their behaviour and do understand the differences.

Like Graham, I believe that behaviour is worse than it used to be. In my school days of course there were students who misbehaved quite seriously, but they were not supported in that behaviou by their parents or the civil rights movement, or by "human rights" legislation and they were quickly removed from school to a job or a special unit. That may not have been ideal, but it certainly made the job less difficult than it is now.

Another aspect is the inclusion policy which Andy hasn't responded to. It is simply a fact, and not arguable, that teachers did not have students with severe physical/emotional/behavioural disabilities in their classrooms 20 years ago. I can clearly remember the beginning of the inclusion policy here and it began with a few children with normal intellect who were in wheelchairs or mildly physically impaired and that was fine, no real problems. But when teachers have to deal with severe behavioural disabilities such as autism with no proper training and insufficient support, on top of 28-30 other children, then it is expecting too much and not surprising that teachers become stressed and burnt out.

What would YOU do if you had an autistic 7 yr old in a class of 28 who constantly attacked TAs, you, other children, was not able to sit still for more than a few seconds, bit, kicked, spat, ran round and screamed loudly all day, and then told by the mother that it's all your fault because you don't give him enough stimulating activities? This is not an "extreme" case, at least not here where we have full inclusion and parents know their rights. This mother refuses to have him in a special school and blames the school and teacher for the problem rather than the disability - it's less guilt creating that way. To get him to a special school we will have to go through a long, complicated, expensive and stressful legal battle with the mother. Is that fair on the teacher who will of necessity be dragged into the case? This would not have happened even 10 years ago.

Like Graham, I am asking what we can do about it. Punish more strictly in the short term? Punish parents? Change society? How?

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Interesting article in our papers today:

"Medcal experts fear Australia's current crop of kids are a "bubble-wrap generation", prone to obesity and mental disorders because parents are too protective.

Although Australian infant death rates have halved in the past 20 years, doctors believe weight problems and conditions such as anxiety, depression and ADD are rising.'They fear that focusing so much on children's safety and security has had unintended consequences such as limiting their physical activity and opportunities for social development."

How can we then say that nothing has changed, that children are the same as they've always been? And I'm certain that if children are "over-protected" in a country such as Australia, the same is likely to be true of the UK.

If we add to this the fact that the incidence of autism has increased dramatically in a decade, much more than could be accounted for by better diagnosis, (we have had to recently appoint several more autism consultants despite the fact that our population has been declining) then I think we have to admit that this generation of children is not the same as the last.

Also read recently an article describing research that provided evidence of abnormally accelerated maturation in children resulting from excessive viewing of adult TV programs - in other words a huge overdose of "virtual experience" affects brain chemicals.

Another interesting theory about the increasing incidence of ADHD suggests that it may be a result of a few generations of "like attracting like" and therefore strengthening the genetic factor for the syndrome. In earlier generations people were more inclined to marry for other reasons.

But will we learn from all this? I doubt it.

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Regarding Jean's email:

We certainly have a weight problem in the UK. Children are more overweight than they used to be. I have the impression that young females are more likely to be overweight than young males. It is said that this has something to do with the curtailed timetable of sports activities in schools. Young men, however, are more likely to indulge in sports of their own volition, e.g. playing football or cricket at weekends.

A lot is said and written about the ways in which we are affected by food additives. My elder daughter has been advised by her doctor to avoid farmed salmon, for example, as she developed a condition that may have been related to the hormones used as additives in food given to farmed salmon. I have suddenly developed an extreme allergy to all kinds of shellfish, having eaten shellfish for all my life with no ill-effects - and I know of two other people who have also developed the same allergy later in life. The medical profession can offer little as an explanation of why these things happen. We are what we eat, but what are we eating?

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I know that not all "scientific evidence" can be trusted, but two more articles in our papers today.

1. A well-known Australian has committed suicide and was known to have bi-polar disorder. Doctor here saying that bi-polar is on the increase probably due to changes in diet, pollutants and increase in illicit drug taking.

2. Doctors saying that middle-class parents feeding their children "adult" diets of pasta/lasagne/spices/too much fruit and vegs can be as bad as take-away diets because children's digestive systems not mature enough especially for tomatoes, and the results include eczema, other skin problems, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome etc

Why am I quoting these? Because it's another example of why children "aren't what they used to be".

More and more children are being brought up by parents who have mental disorders and drug related problems. More and more children are a bad result of what they ingest, eat and do, or don't do. As a consequence an increasing number of children have physical and/or mental disorders, behaviour syndromes, are obese and socially immature. Can we then say that this won't manifest itself in the classroom?

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Why am I quoting these? Because it's another example of why children "aren't what they used to be".

It is better to light a candle than to complain about the darkness.

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No need to light a candle if you don't know you're in the dark but good to light one up when you find yourself in it.

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So the Bluewater shopping mall has banned hoods and baseball caps:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/talking_point/4537459.stm

I have mixed views about this:

1. Many of the troublemakers who congregate on the corner of our shopping precinct wear hoods or baseball caps. Some go one stage further and wrap a scarf round their mouths. The wearers of hoods, especially on a bright sunny day, have certainly been identified as a potential trouble by local shopkeepers, and older people often remark that they look intimidating.

2. I often wear a baseball cap (I brought back a nice souvenir one from Alaska last year) when I play golf, when I walk my dog on a sunny day, and when I go skiing. It keeps the sun and/or snow out of my eyes and off my bald head. I also have a Canadian Tilley Hat - even better protection against the sun.

I was stopped by the bouncer at the door of a Yates wine lodge because I was wearing trainers. I managed to convince him that I did not intend to start a fight and explained that I had no other shoes with me, having just driven 30 miles from home to attend a colleague's leaving party. He let me in but asked me to keep my feet under the table.

I think that Bluewater management has a point, but maybe they should concentrate on stopping groups of, say, more than four youngsters hanging around together rather than imposing a dress code. I understand that one of our local shopping precincts has succeeded in getting a Dispersal Order implemented to prevent large groups gathering. Large groups are not tolerated within 100 yards of the precinct. It seems to be effective.

Next nasty trend to crack down on: Happy Slapping:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/crime/article/0,...1470213,00.html

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