Letter: Mental illness in British children

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Sir: Your report (23 May) that mental illness in children has increased in the last five years, the rate almost double among young children, comes as no surprise to infant and junior schoolteachers who have been coping with increasingly disturbed children in increasingly overcrowded classes. Access to support agencies, in and out of school, has been cut and the time for pastoral care and counselling is not available.

How does a man become a child killer, like Robert Black, asks John Pemberton (Letters, 23 May). He could also ask how a child becomes a child killer, like Robert Thompson and Jon Venables. We need more than good foster care. We need proper provision for young children from birth, including community support for families, more widely available help with parenting and well resourced early-years education, ensuring that all children receive the individual attention they need in order to realise that they are valuable and worthwhile people. It's nonsense to say that we can't afford it when the cost of our lack of provision is so high.

Does it take a professor such as Dr Pemberton to understand that 'prevention is better than cure'? Or could the Government grasp this truth?

Yours faithfully,


Epsom, Surrey

23 May