Put this one in your “who’d a tunk it” folder. Unicef (the well-known right-wing reactionary outfit) has just released a report saying long hours of formal, institutional child care is detrimental to very young children. Actually, I’m semi-impressed. That Unicef would have the guts to put that sort of thing in print is most commendable. Among other things, it “recommends that all children should where possible be cared for by parents at home during the first 12 months of life.” I especially love this part of the story:
The report has been published at a key point in the childcare debate. Children born today into the rich world are part of the first generation in which a majority will spend a large part of their early childhood in childcare. In Britain about 80 per cent of those aged 3 to 6 are now in some form of formal childcare or education. For those under 3, the proportion is now 25 per cent.
In part, this reflects new opportunities for women to be employed outside the home. But it also reflects new pressures, particularly on the poorest, to return to work as soon as possible after a birth – often to low-paid jobs.
The report notes that high-quality formal childcare can bring huge benefits to children, particularly those from disadvantaged homes, expanding their social and cognitive development and providing them with stimulation that they might not get at home.
But it cites research from Britain and the US suggesting that children who spend too long in formal childcare at too young an age may suffer from long-term effects, including behavioural problems, aggression, antisocial behaviour, depression and an inability to concentrate – although the effects are thought to be relatively small.
Although the effects are thought to be relatively small… You wonder, sometimes, what it would take for some people to get it. This business of sticking very young children – babies – in institutional daycare for many long hours every day of the week is a new and dangerous experiment that goes against everything Mother Nature tells us. But hey, what the heck, effects like antisocial behaviour and aggression and an inability to concentrate “are throught to be relatively small” so who cares! We’ve got jobs to get to, here! Real, meaningful jobs, mark you, not something dull and mindless like looking after our very own babies.
I wonder what Jack Layton will have to say about this report… Think he’ll change his mind about the need for a national child care program? Nah, me neither.
Tanya remarks: “But it also reflects new pressures, particularly on the poorest, to return to work as soon as possible after a birth – often to low-paid jobs.”
Childcare at seven bucks a day in Quebec; you better believe some women feel an absolute obligation to place their tots in daycare and go back to the less than $30K/year job they very likely dislike. It’s not a choice anymore. Women constantly have to fight for their right to stay home with their children. Go women’s lib!