The government has an important role to play, but it’s not only down to the government to make needed changes to the way we, as a society, progress. Like many things in life, society changes, and there comes a point when we take a clear look at the way things are and decide that enough is enough.
In 1275, the legal age of consent was 12. In a historic act of legislation – the Offences Against the Person Act – the government increased the legal age of consent to 13; this took place in what is comparatively recent history, 1875. Ten years later, the government changed the law again, raising the age of consent to 16. At the time, the increase to 13 would have been ground-breaking, today, we look back at the law with suitable horror that, as a society, we ever behaved in such a way.
Today, society still needs to play a role in improving the life of children, starting with changing the view we take on bad parenting – a problem that impacts the lives of too many children in the UK. We can’t solely rely on the government to make the changes needed to prevent bad parenting, as regulations only take us so far. It needs to be society, as a whole, that raises the bar on parenting expectations to protect those children who are the most vulnerable in our communities.
Bad Parenting: Why It’s Time for a Change
Parents have a certain level of freedom to teach and care for their children how they like, but there comes a point where a parenting style goes too far as to fall into the category of ‘bad parenting’. The definitions of bad parenting can go from one extreme to another, but there are some commonly exhibited signs of bad parenting, such as:
- Setting no boundaries
- Not spending time with a child
- Physical discipline
- Not trusting a child
While getting some peace and quiet or allowing children to have a bit of fun isn’t going to do much harm, the extremes of these behaviours can have an impact on the development of a child. Problems, as a result of bad parenting, can appear in many forms, including:
- Aggression – A poor quality of parenting in young children can lead to heightened levels of aggressive behaviour, according to a research study from the University of Minnesota.
- Bad Behaviour – A study from the Department of Education has found that negative parenting, such as harsh discipline, can double the chances of a child misbehaving.
- Mental Health Issues – Research into parenting and depression have linked harsh and negative parenting with higher rates of depressive symptoms in children.
A change in social expectations could help to stop children suffering from these – and the many more – repercussions of bad parenting.
The Power of Social Expectations
The expectations of society have the remarkable power to influence the behaviour of individuals, more so than many people might think. For example, studies into altruistic behaviour have demonstrated that females may only display more selfless behaviour than men because society expects them to.
Humans are, at the root of everything, incredibly social. The social norms that we create help to give some kind of order to society. As most people follow the often-unspoken rules, social norms can be used to spark change. The power of social expectations has been used in many frameworks for instigating change, such as Unilever’s Five Levers for Change model, which is based on barriers, triggers, and motivators. In this model, one key lever, ‘make it desirable’, is based on how society follows social norms.
Research into expectations have suggested that social expectations are more powerful than personal expectations, indicating that if society were to take a dim view on bad parenting, than personal behaviour might change. The longer that society accepts or ignores signs of bad parenting, the higher the number of children that will suffer. If society made the change and took a wholly dim view of bad parenting, we could start to make lasting changes towards a better future.
You may also wish to read: