No. 578, December 3, 2007
Recently I had the privilege to listen to one of the worlds foremost researchers on day care, Professor of Psychology Jay Belsky. Belsky has done research on day care since the seventies. What he has found differs from what many people believe.
We know that the early years in life shape our future psychological well-being and therefore our ability to learn & grow.
Jay Belsky is from USA but now works in London. When I listened to him he told the story of how he by coincidence got into a research project on day care in the seventies. Day care was then highly controversial. Some argued that the early separation from the mother could be bad for the child. But the study found no bad effects even if the researchers warned that the study was small and the research methods new. Still, the results were taken as a green light to day care. Belsky was acknowledged and advanced in his career.
Some years later Belsky looked in to some new studies. He then found "a slow steady trickle of disconcerting evidence" that many hours in day care from a young age could result in increased behavioural problems. Belsky dutifully reported these findings but received such a strong resistance that he eventually left USA and moved to England.
The U.S. Government then decided that this controversial subject needed to be researched. A big sum of research money was offered for a high quality study with several researchers, among them Jay Belsky. Nearly 1400 newborns were involved in the research. They would be followed until high school. Until now research data up to 12 years of age has been published.
Some results contradict common views. Here are some of the strongest findings:
Far from all children get problems but there is a risk factor, according to Belsky.
The interpretation of these results are, of course, subject to great controversy.
Creative regards! Jonas Himmelstrand
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