Child Care and Problem Behavior

An excerpt from a post by Nicole M. King at Mercatornet:

Research continues to confirm Russian novelist Yevgeny Zamyatin’s identification of daycare centers as “child-rearing factories.” As part of its on-going investigation into the effects of early non-maternal child care, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development published more findings as to how America’s own child-rearing factories are generating long-term social pollution. Findings published in 2003 indicated that young children in non-relative care during their early years were decidedly more likely than peers in maternal care to manifest problem behavior (aggression, defiance) in kindergarten. Now, a follow-up study indicates that such problems persist through the sixth grade among those children who had been placed in daycare.

The authors of the study believe that their findings deserve attention, based as they are on data collected from “a large, diverse sample, a prospective longitudinal design, a rich array of measures obtained from multiple methods, and from multiple respondents.” In part, these findings might seem reassuring. For instance, the researchers report that placement of children in non-relative care in their early childhood becomes a “weaker predictor” of “externalizing problems” and “teacher-child conflict” as the children involved grow older, “eventually becoming [statistically] nonsignificant” by the end of sixth grade.

However, when the researchers narrow their focus to analyze the effects “not just by time in non-relative care in general, but time in center care in particular,” the results are disturbing. Using multi-variable statistical models, the researchers establish that, compared to peers cared for by their mothers in their early years, “children with more experience in center settings continued to manifest somewhat more problem behaviors through sixth grade.” In other words, “this seemingly adverse consequence of center-based care did not dissipate” by the time the children had finished sixth grade.

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