IS THIS country facing a parenting crisis? I only ask because of two issues raised in last weekend’s newspapers, namely the statistic that three pre-teens a day are admitted to hospitals due to self-harming and Caroline Spielman, the chief inspector of schools, saying that parents are to blame for many of the problems in schools.

In the first case, the self-harm by children aged 12 and under, has been blamed in some cases on school stress, bullying and self-image concerns and that they were being denied services that could help them before they reached crisis point.

Meanwhile, Spielman, speaking ahead of the publication today of Ofsted’s annual report on the state of the country’s schools, wants the introduction of parenting classes because teachers “should not have to deal with” four-year-olds turning up at school in nappies, childhood obesity and teenagers taking knives and drugs into schools. It leaves teachers exhausted and burnt out, she said.

Tellingly, she urged parents not to be their children’s best friend and to teach their children how to grow up properly. What is the common denominator in both issues? Parents. It seems that parents are letting down their children in too many areas, with schools left picking up the pieces.

Spielman is quite right. Teachers should not have change nappies, they should not have to watch children’s weight and if children are concealing weapons or drugs in their backpacks when they arrive at school, that places the fault back in the home.

The word “teaching” has come to mean far more than just the academic. Yes, teachers have always instilled discipline, in order to be able to teach, but the line between parents’ responsibilities and teachers’ roles is now very blurred.

The teaching system has been complicit through its PSHE classes, which impart political biases and PC views along with any practical advice, but parents have too willingly relinquished this responsibility to schools.

Why parents are happy to let people who, to them, are strangers give moral advice to their children on how to live their lives still confounds me, especially as I have been one of those parents.

Surely advising teenage boys and girls about how to deal with each other romantically and sexually is a parental role because so much of it is based on moral, religious and family beliefs and traditions. After all, it’s not their teachers who will have to live with the consequences of their children’s romantic liaisons; ultimately one of these liaisons could become your son or daughter-in-law and possibly the parent of your grandchildren, long after their teacher has faded from their lives.

In a similar vein, all the other symptoms of the crisis in children’s problems find their root causes in the home. It is quite clearly parents’ responsibility to potty train their youngsters before they start school at four. This is a duty parents should not and cannot outsource. What child wants to be the only one in their first class at their first school in a nappy? What child wants to be helped at the toilet by people who are essentially strangers?

It’s an invasion of their privacy and an insult to their dignity.

Obesity cannot be anyone else’s fault but the parents because from birth children eat what they are given or what they are allowed at home. Eating patterns are established very early on in life, under the supervision of their parents, who should be taking charge of what goes into their children’s stomachs at school as well as at home, either through packed lunches or understanding what is on the school dinners menu.

To expect teachers to oversee their charges’ intake is simply abdicating their responsibility; even worse is for parents to blame schools and teachers for their child’s obesity, or to simply say, “What can you do?” with a shrug of the shoulders.

And when teenagers feel free to take knives or drugs into school, don’t you somehow feel that they come from the kind of family that would also fail to potty train their child before they start school and who won’t take responsibility for what and how they eat?

They are perhaps also the children who then use those knives to assert power over others. In other words, they become bullies.

Parents who neglect their child’s needs by failing to parent are leading their children into a minefield of mental health problems. Neglect itself is damaging to a child’s feeling of self-worth and leaves them vulnerable to bullying in the real world as well as the virtual one, surely another vital area parents should take control over.