There would be fewer "problem children" if more people took their role in the Church more seriously, according to Bishop James McGuinness of Nottingham.
In a pastoral letter geared for the start of the International Year of the Child and read out in all churches in the diocese last Sunday, he told parents to remember how essential their own example was to children.
"Build up a true, loving relationship in the family circle, with God as the centre. Guide the children as they prepare to face the world with its many complex problems. Don't leave them entirely to their own initiative. They want your interest, help and understanding," he said.
Bishop McGuinness hoped that special emphasis would be given during the year to the role of children in the Church and society.
He referred to the "boat people" fleeing from Vietnam, and said: "The vast majority are young people, who look for help. We must give that help in every way possible."
He urged schools to help to make Catholic children aware of the needs of their fellow young people throughout the world.
Meanwhile a call for a special "children's ombudsman" has come from Dr Mia Kellmer Pringle, director of the National Children's Bureau.
She made the suggestion in a briefing paper published by the bureau when she said that the year presented an opportunity to create some form of representation for neglected children. Such representation could include the creation of an ombudsman or a Minister for Children, she said.
Among the many activities planned for the year is an exhibition of paintings by young people which will be touring the Anglican Cathedrals of England. The exhibition will consist of the best entries in a competition jointly sponsored by Christian Aid and the Young Observer.