Dangers of Childcare

Question: You referred to various problems associated with child care facilities. Are there any others we should be aware of?

Answer: Yes, there are additional concerns that are deeply troubling. The most serious among them is the spread of infectious diseases. Brian Robertson, in a book titled Day Care Deception, addressed that issue head-on. His data are older now, but the findings are still highly relevant:

The drastically elevated incidence of infectious diseases among day care children is hardly a secret among pediatricians and epidemiologists. The problem surfaced in dramatic form a decade ago when Pediatric Annals devoted a special issue to day care–related diseases, headlining their lead editorial, "Day Care, Day Care: Mayday! Mayday!" The statistics are truly shocking. According to one estimate published by the American Academy of Family Physicians, children in day care are eighteen times more likely to become ill than other children; at any one time, 16 percent of those attending day care are likely to be sick. (Of those sick children, 82 percent continue to attend day care in spite of their illness.) Day care children are anywhere between three and four-and-a-half times more likely to be hospitalized than those raised at home. One study estimated that "children in day care are at a 50 to 100 percent increased risk for contracting [certain] fatal and maiming diseases for each year in day care."5

The newer findings regarding the detrimental effects of day care on behavior and the mother-child bond are merely the latest confirmation of warnings from numerous child development experts over the last forty years—warnings that have been largely suppressed by the reigning day care establishment of researchers, journalists, and lobbyists. The truth is, these experts—particularly those who specialize in the field of "infant attachment"—found the evidence against day care for young children conclusive long ago.

I could say more, but it all comes down to the vulnerability and sensitivity of very young children. They need the very best care we can give them as they get their start in life. Though research has not been as definitive about child care during the remainder of childhood, I personally believe they should be cared for at home for as long as possible. Even teens benefit from having a mom there when they get home from school. But that is another question.

Question: I wonder if you understand how difficult it is for me to hear you say that. I am a single mother, and I have to work outside the home to feed my little family. I'm doing the best I can to raise my three kids by myself.

Answer: I do understand because I have dealt with many single parents such as yourself who struggle day by day. That is why I have said the task of raising children alone is "the toughest job in the universe." My evaluation of group-oriented child care does not represent insensitivity toward those who must utilize formalized programs. For many years, I have been an advocate for single parents who are in desperate need of compassionate assistance from intact families and others who can lend a helping hand. It is a wonderful thing, for example, when fathers are willing to invite fatherless kids to accompany their sons on fishing trips and sporting events. Too often, we leave single moms to flounder during those early child-rearing years.

I extend my best regards and prayers to you. As you said, you are doing the best you can to cope with circumstances as they are. I applaud you for that. The last thing I want to do is add to your burden, and if I sounded insensitive in my criticism of child care programs, please forgive me. I was addressing my concerns to those who have a choice about caring for their kids and want to know the truth.

5.Robertson, Day Care Deception, 85–86.

Book: Bringing Up Girls

By Dr. James Dobson

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