Child Care Linked to Aggressiveness in Pre-Schoolers

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Child Care Linked to Aggressiveness in Pre-Schoolers
Results Vindicate Parents’ Preference For At-home Care

Washington, D.C. – The results of a major research study of child care and development indicate that children who spend more time in child care are more likely to display aggressive, defiant and disobedient behavior in kindergarten. The study, to be presented today at a meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development in Minneapolis, is one of the most comprehensive studies of its kind ever conducted. Some 1,300 children in 10 sites across the country were tracked in the study. Children who spent more than 30 hours a week in child care scored higher than average on measures such as, “cruelty,” “explosive behavior,” “gets in lots of fights,” “argues a lot,” and “demands a lot of attention.” Moreover, the quality of childcare did not appear to improve these outcomes, and the results held true whether the children were rich or poor, male or female, or whether they were in institutionalized day care or were looked after by a relative or a nanny.

Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D., Senior Fellow of the Beverly LaHaye Institute, remarked that the results of the study appear to vindicate the desire of parents to spend more time with their children. In a recent survey of American adults, conducted for Lifetime Television and the Center for Policy Alternatives, respondents were most likely to recommend that parents spend more time with their children as a solution to the decline in moral values. Yet, 59 percent of women respondents with children under 6 said it is harder than it was 4 years ago to balance family and work demands. Another survey, published in 2000 by the non-profit group, Public Agenda, found that for a majority of working parents child care is not their first choice when it comes to what they regard as best for their children, though they acknowledge it is often a necessity. “Parents are still the best judges of what is best for their children,” Dr. Crouse said, “and despite continuing pressure on parents to leave the job of child-rearing to the self-styled ‘experts,’ competing demands of home and work continue to trouble single parents and married parents who must depend on two paychecks.”

Crouse continued, “Feminists continue to promote quality childcare as the solution to this dilemma and as a benefit for both women and children. Yet this study appears to reveal that, at least in the area of children’s behavior, excessive use of childcare may be harmful to children. In addition, though educational and professional achievement is often touted by feminists as a sort of “Holy Grail” for women, the price of such achievements-in terms of family breakdown and the disintegration of civil society-may be too high.”

The recently released report from the Beverly LaHaye Institute, Gaining Ground: A Profile of American Women in the Twentieth Century, reveals a somewhat mixed picture of the gains achieved by American women since the beginning of the last century. Relying on a variety of data sources, the report documents the trends in well being of American women in the 20th century in seven categories: demographics, health, family, education, economics, attitudes and religion. While women have made great strides in areas such as life expectancy, economic opportunity and educational attainment, the areas of personal well being are cause for concern. For example, women are living longer than ever, but they are also more likely to live alone or as single mothers or as “unrelated individuals.” Women have greater educational and career opportunities than ever before, yet more women are single mothers–either as a result of divorce or because they are not married to their children’s fathers.

“Americans are reaping the whirlwind of family breakdown in a number of different ways,” Crouse concluded. “It appears that one consequence may be that many of our children are turning into bullies.”

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