Kidulthood, the controversial teen film featuring gun-running, drug-taking and casual sex, should be "mandatory" viewing for everyone working with children, says Sir Al Aynsley Green.
The Children's Commissioner for England said too many people do not understand the pressures on children today, and that every teacher, social worker or care assistant should be made to watch Noel Clarke's hard-hitting youth drama.
The film, released in March, was made largely by young people and tells how a group of teenagers come to terms with the suicide of a friend. There are scenes of bullying, casual sex and hardcore drug abuse.
The Children's Commissioner said: "It should be mandatory viewing for everyone working with children and young people. There was lots of froth in the media at the time about its controversial content but it was driven by children and young people themselves. Too many people are oblivious to what children's lives are like. They think they are well-off and showered with gifts, but all too often that is not the case."
He said teachers and childcare workers should also read Bernard Hare's book Urban Grimshaw and The Shed Crew for a similar reality-check.
Dave Calhoun, film editor at Time Out magazine, said: "As a film, it wasn't very good because it heaped hot topic on hot topic and didn't do any of them justice. But you have to praise its intentions.
"This kind of film about British teenagers doesn't come out very often and it tried to be as real as possible. I don't think anyone watching it can deny things in the film exist. There are teenagers who have sex, get pregnant, carry weapons and use drugs."
The comments follow this week's launch of The Children's Society's Good Childhood inquiry, which examined the state of modern childhood, and the Children's Commissioner's own outspoken remarks about provision for autistic children at the weekend.
In an interview with the BBC after meeting members of the National Autistic Society, he said: "It's appalling and it's shameful for our country, the fifth-richest economy in the world, to have so many children that are not being looked after and given the resources they need to develop to their full potential. It is shocking and appalling."
The society is campaigning for better education for children with the condition. It says services are limited and training for teachers is inadequate.
The Government has now promised to look into more funding for special needs pupils.
vanished childhood, page 19