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Tuesday, 26 September, 2000, 12:38 GMT 13:38 UK
'Tweenagers' risk losing childhood
Children watching television
Children can learn adult attitudes from television
The pressure on young people to grow up too quickly is taking away their chance to enjoy childhood, says a head teacher.

George Marsh, head teacher of Dulwich College Preparatory School in south London, says that so-called "tweenagers" - young people aged about 9 to 13 - were missing out on the innocence of the last years of their childhood.


I'm not suggesting putting the clock back to Victorian times, but children need time to play, to dream and to hope - time to have a childhood

George Marsh, chairman Incorporated Association of Preparatory Schools

Speaking to the Incorporated Association of Preparatory Schools' annual conference, Mr Marsh said that children were exposed to more media influences than ever before that pushed them into adopting the attitudes of older teenagers.

"I'm not suggesting putting the clock back to Victorian times, but children need time to play, to dream and to hope - time to have a childhood," said Mr Marsh.

"But they're facing so many consumer-led images of fashion and ideas, on television and in magazines, that push them towards conforming and growing up in a way that means they miss out on being children."

Mr Marsh, who is chairman of the independent primary school association, also argued that schools were in danger of "over-testing" pupils and putting at risk the creativity of young people.

And he urged schools to encourage the kind of imaginative and emotional development that could not be taken as another exam.

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