May 2, 2001
The advocates of "it take a village to raise a child" are having a
rough month. They are scurrying around trying to come up with
arguments to refute the new study showing that children who spend most
of their time in daycare are three times as likely to exhibit behavior
problems in kindergarten as those who are cared for primarily by their
Children who spend more than 30 hours a week in daycare were found
to be more demanding, more noncompliant, and more aggressive. They
scored higher on things like gets in lots of fights, cruelty, bullying,
meanness, talking too much, and making demands that must be met
The study found a direct correlation between time spent in daycare
and a child's aggression, defiance and disobedience. The findings held
true regardless of the type or quality of daycare, the sex of the
child, the family's socioeconomic status, or the quality of the mother
Why is anybody surprised that social science research is
confirming reality? True science always verifies reality; it's only
junk science that manufactures illusions based on ideologies.
The new study followed more than 1,100 children in ten cities in
every kind of daycare setting, from care with relatives and nannies to
preschool and large daycare centers. The study was financed by the
National Institute on Child Health and Human Development, a branch of
the National Institutes of Health that produced a daycare-friendly
report in 1996.
The "village" advocates are swarming all over the media with their
feeble rebuttals. They argue, without evidence, that better quality
daycare might produce different results, that the real problem is that
employed parents are tired and stressed, and that the study hasn't
undergone rigorous peer review.
Of course, there are other variables, including viewing
television, the divorce of parents, and the amount of father care. But
this new study is the most comprehensive to date and its findings are
by significant margins.
The new study corroborates the 1986 findings of one of its
principal investigators, Dr. Jay Belsky, who shocked the child
development world with an article entitled "Infant Day Care: A Cause
for Concern?" Belsky reported on the evidence then piling up that
infants who spent long hours in daycare were at risk of behavioral
At that time, the daycare industry and the "village" advocates in
the child development field were preparing to launch a national
advertising campaign for federally funded, federally regulated daycare
as a new middle-class entitlement. They felt threatened by this
article by Belsky, then just a young associate professor at
Pennsylvania State University.
So, the daycare industry lowered the professional boom on the
upstart professor who dared to challenge the then prevailing feminist
notion that commercial daycare was what infants really needed so that
their mothers could be fulfilling themselves in the labor force. The
word went out: don't buy Belsky's textbook, shun him at professional
meetings, label him a misogynist.
The reason the daycare issue arouses such bitter antagonism is not
only that it challenges the liberals who want to expand government
social services by having the "village" take over raising children.
The daycare issue also strikes at the heart of feminist ideology that
it is oppression of women for society to expect mothers to care for
their own children.
Feminist ideology teaches that equality for women depends on the
government relieving women of the burden of child care so they can be
advancing in the labor force. Any evidence that shows commercial
daycare inferior to mother care, therefore, must be destroyed and the
Remarkably, Belsky didn't kowtow to the Politically Correct
gestapo as so many academics have done. He is now a professor at the
University of London and this time he was joined in his research by
some of the country's most respected child development experts.
In 1988, the daycare industry, with lobbying help and media access
from the Children's Defense Fund, went ahead with its lavish national
advertising campaign, proclaiming the lack of sufficient daycare a
national "crisis," and offering the ABC Child Care Bill sponsored by
Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) as the solution. Their three-year
congressional and media battle failed; the American people are not
willing to provide tax-paid baby-sitters for other people's children.
Hillary Clinton made another attempt to peddle the notion of a
daycare "crisis" as her "frontier issue" in 1997. She hosted an
exclusive shindig at the White House featuring all the usual suspects
of those who want the "village" to raise children, such as her friend
Marian Wright Edelman of the Children's Defense Fund, but the American
people turned a deaf ear to her cries of "crisis."
The conservative solution to child care needs has always been tax
credits, i.e., let the parents spend their own money for the child care
of their choice, and don't force mothers taking care of their own
children to subsidize babysitters for employed moms. Fortunately,
we've made some progress in legislating child credits into the income