Britain is in danger of becoming "decivilised", with adults no longer able to exert discipline over the young, according to a senior Tory frontbencher.
Shadow trade and industry secretary Alan Duncan will say that the country is facing a "collapse of authority" as teenagers lose their fear of adult institutions.
In a speech to the Centre for Policy Studies think tank, he will say some young people are living out the story of William Golding's Lord of the Flies in which a group of children descended into barbarism after being stranded on a desert island.
His comments come amid national alarm over the shooting dead of three teenagers in south London within the space of a fortnight. "The greatest problem we need to address in Britain is that it is steadily becoming decivilised," Mr Duncan will say.
"We need to empower teachers so that they can exert the control that too many parents are unwilling or unable to exert. The collapse of authority cannot remain undiscussed. If there is no fear of authority, there is no respect for it.
"It cannot make sense in a civilised society for children of school age to face the discipline they need in court rather than in class or in the home. Even though most of the problems at any school are family-based, we are condemned to decline if adults and institutions remain unable to reclaim authority over younger people.
"Living out in real life the disturbing plot of William Golding's Lord of the Flies risks corroding Britain's well-being."
Mr Duncan will say that the country must have the "gumption" to confront the decline of the education system which has been eroded by apathy and a lack of desire for achievement.
"Behind educational degradation lies a contempt for some people doing much better than others. Olympic sportsmen are part of an elite. If education is not about excellence, then it's not about anything," he will say.
"There can be no success without the risk of failure. Our culture of achievement in education has become corrupted."