Caring for children

November 22, 1996

I am writing in response to "Day care does not harm children" (THES, November 1). I was astonished to read the article, which fails to take account of a significant and growing body of evidence which indicates that day care, as usually defined, interferes with children's ability to form lasting relationships or feel empathy for others. By perpetually changing caregivers, daycare undermines the child's ability to trust at the very moment when it is learning to form relationships.

This evidence suggests that the key period for the creation of secure parental bonds is closer to three years, not eight months. The key word in the article was "quality". This adjective needs to be carefully understood. If it means day care where there is a high ratio of staff to infants and no turnover in staff, then the damage to the children will of course be reduced. However, this kind of day care is not economical and is out of reach financially for all but the very rich, unless it is provided by one of the parents or a member of their extended family.

Society today is paying the price, in terms of increased levels of violence and aggression in the young, of the day care inflicted on them in the past. Anyone who still doubts the very real dangers of excessive reliance on day care should see the film John, available from the Canadian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Their email address is: cspcc@bconnex.net

Saskia Murk Jansen Owlstone Road Cambridge

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