Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams says that the Children's Society's headline-making new report "is telling us that adults have to change if children are to be better cared for."
Writing in the London Evening Standard newspaper, Dr Williams, a patron of the report, entitled 'A Good Childhood: Searching for values in a competitive age', says that the past decade has alerted people to some of the ways in which we have betrayed children.
"It is right to feel with some urgency that a youth subculture in which extreme reactive violence is normal is a terrible thing," he says.
The archbishop continues by saying that "dealing responsibly with these anxieties needs some reality-checking. Without a coherent sense of what makes for long-term human well-being, the educating of a new generation is hamstrung from the start. The report doesn't quite say that we are without such a coherent sense, but it notes a whole range of things that strongly suggest there is a huge amount of ground to make up."
He returns to a previous theme by referring to "the effect of obsessive testing in the educational process, and to our casual attitude towards preparing young people for a working environment."
But behind the specifics there lie deeper troubles, Dr Williams suggests.
"We tolerate levels of arbitrary violence in our entertainment that have a debasing effect on everyone's imagination. We shy away from confronting the cost that may be involved in preserving stability in our relationships.
"Despite serious efforts to change the situation, we remain a gravely unequal society. The effects of poverty still fall disproportionately on the young."
Developing fresh and healthier ways of living is vital for all our good, the archbishop says.
More on the Good Childhood report: http://tinyurl.com/bgo5xc