UNICEF: Daycare is “A high-stakes gamble with today’s children and tomorrow’s world”

Tue Dec 16, 2008 - 12:15 pm EST

By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

December 16, 2008 ( – A surprising new document from UNICEF puts the spotlight on the possible fallout of the decreasing role of the family in raising young children, and the proliferation of daycare in affluent western nations.

“What we are now witnessing across the industrialized world,” says the UNICEF report, “can fairly be described as a revolution in how the majority of young children are being brought up."

The report observes that "most children in the developed world are spending their earliest years in some form of care outside the home.” According to the organization, “80 per cent of children aged three to six are in some form of early childhood education and care outside the home,” and “about one in four under the age of three are also cared for outside the home — with the proportion rising to one in two in some countries.”

The report concludes that, "To the extent that this change is unplanned and unmonitored, it could also be described as a high-stakes gamble with today’s children and tomorrow’s world."

Martha Friendly, director of the Toronto-based Childcare Resource and Research Unit, commented on the UNICEF study in a CBC report, saying, "The child-care transition," that is, the transition from children being raised by their parents to being raised by state-run institutions, “is being facilitated by public policies in most countries."

There remain significant unanswered questions, however, about the wisdom of implementing policies that encourage parents to turn towards daycare out of necessity, rather than caring for them in their own homes. LifeSiteNews has reported on many studies that have shown the negative consequences of daycare and preschool environments on young children.

The most comprehensive study done in the US was released last year and found that the more time children spent in center-based care before kindergarten, the more likely their teachers were to report such problem behaviors as "gets in many fights," "disobedient at school," and "argues a lot." (See "Largest US Child Study Finds Early Child Care Linked to Aggression and Disobedience":

Other studies have found everything from increased frequency of illness to impaired social and emotional development in children attending preschool centers.

“The biggest eye-opener is that the suppression of social and emotional development, stemming from long hours in preschool, is felt most strongly by children from better-off families,” said UC Berkeley sociologist and co-author Bruce Fuller, who performed research on the question in California in 2005.

A study released in 2006 of universal daycare as currently offered in Quebec revealed that children in daycare were 17 times more hostile than children raised at home, and almost three times more anxious.

The researchers of the Quebec study, led by University of Toronto economist Michael Baker, also found a negative effect on parents. “Our analysis also suggests that the new childcare program led to more hostile, less consistent parenting, worse parental health, and lower-quality parental relationships,” they said.

Read the related reports:

Preschool Damages Children’s Social Skills and Emotional Development

Study Shows Canada’s Universal Daycare Plan Has “Strikingly Negative” Consequences

Study Finds Daycare Damages Babies Brain Chemistry

Study Links Child Aggression to Time in Day Care

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