Intended for healthcare professionals


The importance of parenting in child health

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: (Published 23 May 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:1545

Doctors as well as the government should do more to support parents

  1. Masud Hoghughi, Consultant clinical psychologist
  1. Young People's Unit, General Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne NE4 6BE

    Parenting is probably the most important public health issue facing our society. It is the single largest variable implicated in childhood illnesses and accidents; teenage pregnancy and substance misuse; truancy, school disruption, and underachievement; child abuse; unemployability; juvenile crime; and mental illness. These are serious in themselves but are even more important as precursors of problems in adulthood and the next generation.1 This is why British and other governments are giving parenting high priority (such as, in Britain, the cross departmental committee chaired by the Minister for Public Health and the prime minister's social exclusion unit).

    The importance of parenting arises from its role as a buffer against adversity (such as poverty or delinquent influences) or mediator of damage (as in child abuse). Parenting usually involves biological parents but is …

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