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Uncovering the Day Care Industry’s Deception
by La Shawn Barber
23 September 2003Day Care Deception

According to a new book by Brian Robertson, we are just beginning to see the consequences of the enormous, unprecedented shift toward a new and untested way of rearing and socializing young children.

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 book.

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 own responsibility.

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.

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