My fondest memory
of childhood was coming home from school knowing my mother would be there
to greet me. Because I had the security and attention only she could provide,
my natural inclination to imagine, to write and to create developed spontaneously.
My mother was committed to raising the four of us herself. As Brian C. Robertson
points out in his persuasive new book, Day Care Deception: What The Child Care Establishment Isn’t Telling Us, a growing number of children are not so fortunate.
Some children spend 35-40 hours per week at day care centers. Despite a mounting
body of evidence that commercial day care is psychologically and physiologically
harmful to children, the industry is thriving. Robertson expertly makes the
case for parental care over commercial care in his well-researched 222-page
The most significant evidence of the harmful effects of day care is “the
drastically elevated incidence of infectious diseases.” One study showed
that infants in day care have twice the rate of inner ear infections as infants
raised at home. The incidence of respiratory illness is 100% higher for infants
and 25% to 50% higher for older preschoolers. A prominent medical researcher
said that day care is “responsible for outbreaks of…diarrhea, dysentery…reminiscent
of the pre-sanitation days of the seventeenth century.”
Even more frightful than the increased health risks is the weakening of the
mother-child bond. “The researchers concluded that more than physical care
was needed for infants’ healthy development: an overriding, dependable attachment
to a specific person -- usually the mother -- who is available to the baby
most of the time,” Robertson writes. Research has proven that the first three
years of a child’s life are the most crucial to development. Robertson cites
studies showing that a weak mother-child bond during this stage can result
in an insecure attachment to the mother, which is accurate in predicting
school performance, behavior, self-esteem, social confidence and the ability
to form relationships. He illustrates the point dramatically in a revealing
chapter about Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. Klebold had
written an essay about Satan opening a day care center in hell -- shortly
before he killed twelve students.
Although a correlation exists between more time spent in day care and behavior
problems, there is virtually no public debate about the damaging effects
of such a revolutionary shift from parental care to institutionalized care.
In Day Care Deception, Robertson speculates that the absence of news
attention, which tends to report only the benefits of day care, is the main
culprit. While survey after survey shows that parents believe one parent
staying home to raise the children is better than commercial care, the liberal
media -- and “working mothers” who often write the stories and seek to assuage
their guilt -- would have us think otherwise.
Feminism has done much to discredit the traditional roles of women, who entered
the workforce during WWII to make up for the shortage of men. In the 1960s,
feminists began clamoring for universal day care. “A significant contingent
of feminists and civil rights activists was bent on overturning long-held
assumptions about the family,” Robertson writes. One assumption held for
generations was that parents knew best. Robertson warns parents not to defer
to “child development experts” in rearing their children.
Robertson provides a sampling of newspaper headlines and stories that play
up “positive” aspects of day care while de-emphasizing or ignoring negative
ones. “Media coverage of day care is one-sided and riddled with conflicts
of interest.” He reveals that some so-called objective researchers who conclude
that day care is beneficial to children are most often on the payrolls of
the industry’s lobbyists.
While acknowledging that some parents -- particularly single mothers -- have
no choice but to use day care, Robertson argues that public policy should
not be based on these “hard cases” and must not be the guiding standard for
a society. Instead, society must find a way to assist these mothers without
making it all but impossible for others to stay at home.
Reducing the tax burden on families is one approach, Robertson posits. The
current dependent-care tax credit is available only to parents who choose
commercial day care. Perhaps another step would be to encourage and support
women who choose children over careers instead of heaping praise on women
who choose careers over children. Forty years ago, did anyone imagine that
mothers would abandon their babies to strangers on such a massive scale?
When parents hand over their children to someone else, they abdicate their
A damning indictment on the day care industry, Day Care Deception
is long over-due. Robertson warns, “We are just beginning to see the consequences
of this enormous, unprecedented shift toward a new and basically untested
way of rearing and socializing young children.” Our children, once considered
a valuable resource for America’s future, may soon become its chief liability.
A freelance writer and former liberal, La Shawn's work has appeared in the Washington Post, Washington Times, and Philadelphia Inquirer, among others.