In a new report on children's mental health services, the Commons Health Committee says ministers should back schemes pioneered in America where parents receive one-to-one instruction through a "bug in the ear" while with their children. Initiatives such as Parent Management Training are said to have been more successful in reducing conduct disorders than conventional therapy.
Increasing numbers of children are thought to have psychiatric or psychological problems, prompting the committee's investigation. The MPs found "compelling" evidence of a growth in such problems.
"Our witnesses agreed that the current provision of child and adolescent mental health services is inadequate both in quality and in geographical spread," the report states.
The select committee is particularly critical of the treatment meted out to excluded pupils, many of whom have serious disorders. "The current arrangements, under which no effective alternative education is arranged for excluded children, are clearly unsatisfactory and may well contribute not to reducing but to perpetuating patterns of conduct disorder and anti-social behaviour," MPs say.
* A conference on child mental health in Scotland will be held in Glasgow on April 15-16. Details from ChildLine Scotland, 18 Albion Street, Glasgow G1 1LH.