Friday, April 06, 2007

U.K.: Prolonged daycare harms young kids

Children in full-time nursery care are more likely to display antisocial tendencies and anxiety than those who stay at home or attend part-time, a government study has found. An evaluation of a 370 million pound government neighbourhood nurseries scheme found that toddlers spending more than seven hours a day in daycare were more prone to be bossy, tease other children, stamp their feet, obstruct other playmates and get anxious when toys or refreshments were being handed round. The research, from the University of Oxford and the Institute for Fiscal Studies, has reignited the debate on whether overexposure to formal childcare is bad for children, and is likely to spark fresh concerns over whether government pressure on new parents to return to work is eroding family life.

The results coincided yesterday with a warning from teachers that children were in danger of becoming institutionalised as a result of government plans to offer "wraparound" daycare that would allow pupils to spend 50 hours a week in school. Under the Government's "extended services" agenda, all schools will have to open from 8am to 6pm to give state school pupils the same opportunities as those in the private sector.

Cecily Hanlon, a nursery level teacher from Leeds, questioned whether the policy was alienating children from their families. "It is possible to access full daycare from the age of three months and then spend most of childhood there," she told the annual conference of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers in Bournemouth. "Will the extended schools agenda and the increasing provision of holiday pay schemes further erode family ties? Are parents being led to believe that the best thing for their children is to be in peer groups looked after by other people?"

Richard Martin, of Invicta Grammar School in Leeds, said the debate was not about criticising working parents. He supported a motion passed by the conference calling for more research on the effects of the Government's extended services policies. "It does worry me when you hear stories of infants of only a few months being cared for in a nursery for ten hours a day, five days a week, 48 weeks a year," he said. Shirley Crowther, of Sowerby village Church of England primary school in Calderdale, West Yorkshire, was concerned about the pressure on parents to use wraparound childcare. "It's the parents who should be wrapping their children in their loving arms and not expect other people to do it for them," she said.

But Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, said that it was "ludicrous" to suggest that mothers were harming their children by going to work. Expanding childcare provision and subsidies was a way of ensuring that children from deprived backgrounds got the best start in life, he said. He did not accept that all mothers should stay at home to look after their children and said that two years of good early care could boost development by up to six months at the age of 5. "What we are trying to do is to ensure that parents, mothers in particular, have a choice . . . and have an opportunity to combine their professional life with other commitments," he said.

There has been a long line of reports suggesting that children who spend a long time in daycare are more likely to show behavioural problems. The latest study, led by Kathy Sylva and Sandra Mathers at the University of Oxford, examined 810 children in 100 neighbourhood nurseries and identified a "tipping point" in time spent at daycare for behavioural issues. Children who attended for 30 hours or more a week were rated as more antisocial, while children who attended for 35 hours or more displayed more worried and upset behaviour.

The report said that putting toddlers in mixed age groups was upsetting for the emotional adjustment of those aged under 3®. Teresa Smith, one of the report's principal researchers, said that parents should not be too anxious about the findings as there were some positives. Children who spent a long time in daycare tended to be more confident and sociable.


British "safety" fanaticism hurting kids

Hobby clubs have become victims of "heavy-handed" child protection rules, according to a report that has found that many are now closing their doors to young people. Some of the most popular clubs in Britain, which teach adults and children to fly model aeroplanes or climb mountains, routinely tell all under18s that they must be accompanied by a parent if they want to attend. They are also running out of volunteers prepared to coach younger people because of the mountain of checks and paper-work that are now required.

The research was conducted by the Manifesto Club, a group that campaigns against red tape, which examined how Britain's 780 model-aircraft clubs were coping with new child protection laws. Josie Appleton, author of the report, said that most of the clubs would not now allow children to attend without a parent in tow, and that this had led to a collapse in attendance among under-18s. "Clubs reported that the number of under18s attending has plummeted from about ten or twenty to one or two, or even none, following their decision to require parents to come too," Ms Appleton said. She said that the Government could not possibly achieve its ambition of getting more teenagers to join sports and hobby clubs unless it changed child protection laws.

The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act, which comes into force next year, requires hobby clubs to conduct Criminal Records Bureau checks on all coaches and volunteers, or face a fine of 5,000 pounds. They must also appoint a child welfare officer, who must be trained for the role. Coaches must complete forms on why they wish to work with children and provide two written references from "persons of responsibility" that must then be checked.

John Bridgett, a member of the Retford Model Flying Club in Nottinghamshire, said that almost all the under-18s had left his club. "Due to the ridiculous situation now, not only must parents remain with their children but they too must join as a member of our flying club," he said. "The net result is that junior membership has declined from fifteen down to one over a two-year period." Stuart McFarlane, the chairman of a flying club in Shropshire, said that no one was prepared to allow criminal-record checks, "hardly surprising when we discovered that the CRB had made a few mistakes and wrongly labelled people". He also said that no one was prepared to become a child welfare officer.

Ms Appleton said that although her research concentrated on model-aircraft clubs, other clubs were complaining bitterly. Young mountaineers, for example, were finding it difficult to find adults to accompany them on expeditions. Cameron McNeish, editor of The Great Outdoors magazine, said that it was virtually impossible to find volunteers to take young people mountaineering. "How do young people get experience of winter routes to-day? When I was a kid you joined a club and there was always someone who was willing to take young people out. Clubs don't do that any more as they are scared of the litigation and paedophilia angle."

The Manifesto Club started to examine the impact that the laws were having on hobby clubs after it was contacted by a number of model-aircraft flyers. "Over two or three years child protection policies have meant that flying clubs have closed their doors to children," the report concluded. "As clubs keep children out, and adults become wary of helping them, young people are deprived of experiences that would help them develop into adults."


NHS dentistry

Reforms to NHS dentistry are failing, the British Dental Association said yesterday as thousands of would-be patients besieged a practice near Portsmouth offering NHS care. In scenes more typical of the January sales, patients arrived at first light at a new practice in Titchfield Common, Hampshire. Before the doors had opened, 2,000 people had registered online and over the phone. Hundreds more arrived in an attempt to grab the 1,000 remaining places. By the time the surgery opened at 10am, the queue stretched around the block. Manori Ambrose, who set up the surgery, said: “There are a lot of people who need a dentist who are not even on the waiting list.”

The British Dental Association (BDA) wrote to Barry Cockroft, the Chief Dental Officer of England, yesterday and called for changes to the dental contract, which has been in force for a year. The letter, from Lester Ellman, chairman of the BDA general dental practice committee, said: “The strength of the evidence means I must now write to you to urge you to reconsider the current dental contract. Our concerns go beyond the significant transitional difficulties experienced over the past year and we can now demonstrate that the new system is in need of fundamental reform.”

He called for three key changes: the abandonment of units of dental activity as the only way of measuring performance; more money to be paid directly to primary care trusts for dental services; and for dentists to be given the option to transfer their NHS contracts to new owners. Dr Ellman called on the Government to look again at an alternative model, called personal dental services, which was piloted over a seven-year period.

Near the front of the queue in Titchfield Common was Chris Rills, 49, who said: “I have been without an NHS dentist for three years.”

Last year the Government introduced a new contract to attract dentists back to the NHS. It claims that the move is succeeding, but a BDA survey has found that 85 per cent of dentists thought that it had not improved access to NHS care.

An NHS dentist took her own life after succumbing to the pressures of work, an inquest in Pickering was told. Ingrid Gill, 46, of Thornton Dale, North Yorkshire, took an overdose of antidepressants and whisky after taking on a huge list as the only NHS dentist at the practice, and then being asked by one of the owners to resign from the NHS list because of ill health. She also later had breast cancer diagnosed. Verdict: suicide.


The children of the light love the light and the children of the darkness love the darkness (John 3: 19-20)

Almost by itself, the withholding of their raw data by climate "scientists" tells us that they are not scientists. Scientific co-operation in such matters should normally be absolute and any persistent withholding will normally draw a rebuke in the literature (e.g. here) and make the "findings" suspect. What have the Warmist "scientists" got to fear? From the Mann "hockeystick" debacle I think we KNOW what they have to fear. That's why they fight tooth and nail to keep their "data" secret. The email below from D.J. Keenan [] of details how hard it can be to prise examinable data from Warmists:

One of the big problems in global warming studies, and in science generally, is that research data is often not available to outsiders. Instead, researchers tend to hoard the data for themselves and their friends (who are reluctant to be critical).

Last month, Steve McIntyre (of Hockey Stick fame) began a battle against this by filing an FOI Act request for data used in an important global warming study. The study was done by Phil Jones (a leading researcher), at the University of East Anglia. McIntyre's request was initially refused in toto by the university. McIntyre then filed an appeal with the university.

Separately, I filed a request for a portion of the same data. At first, the university said they were going to process my request in they same way that they had processed McIntyre's, which I believe to be improper. So I drafted a letter of complaint to the UK Information Commissioner's Office, sent the draft to the university, and asked them to let me know if they believed the letter to be inaccurate.

Yesterday, April 3rd, McIntyre and I received notices that the university would supply the information that we requested. More details are posted on McIntyre's blog:

This could change the way that research is conducted in the UK. The result should be both (i) higher quality, as researchers realize that their analyses will be scrutinized far more closely than has been done in the past, and (ii) much improved cross-fertilization of science. In other words, the potential change for UK science is truly huge.

For what it's worth, I have had some small involvement with one other FOI request for scientific data. This was with the infamous "Gillberg affair" in Sweden. There the researchers fought the request hard and, before the data could be examined, they destroyed it: 100,000 pages covering 15 years of research was lost.

[The Gillberg affair concerned controversial claims made by a prominent Swedish professor. He absolutely refused to let others look at the data which he claimed supported his contentions. He was successfully prosecuted in Sweden for his actions. He was just another puffed-up crook out to make a name for himself by fraud. Some of the Warmists would appear to be near relatives of his -- JR]


British Jewish leaders have spoken of their concern after a Haifa University lecturer who has called for a boycott of Israeli academics, was made Chair of History at Exeter University in the south of England. Ilan Pappe has published numerous books and essays accusing Israel of "ethnically cleansing" the Palestinians. "Zionism is far more dangerous to the safety of the Middle East than Islam," Pappe said in one interview recently and two years ago he was a major supporter of the Association of University Teachers' proposals for an academic boycott of Israel.

The Union of Jewish Students is one of a number of organisations who have said they are concerned about the appointment. Mitch Simmons of UJS told The Jewish Telegraph: We're concerned that his anti-Zionist views will spread to other British universities. If an Israel academic has been appointed with more balanced opinions, then that would be fine."

Jon Benjamin, Chief Executive of the Board of Deputies, said he was concerned that impressionable students may be "exposed to his biased views." Benjamin told "After taking full advantage of all the freedoms accorded to him in Israel, a country he has so shamelessly attacked, Pappe has decided to set up shop here. "Whilst this provides the opportunity for academics here to challenge him on his revisionist agenda, the uncomfortable fact is that in the lecture theatres and seminar rooms at Exeter, many impressionable young minds will be exposed to his partial and biased views."


There is an amusing comment here on Pappe: "In both books Pappe in effect tells his readers: "This is what happened." This is strange, because it directly conflicts with a second major element in his historiographical outlook. Pappe is a proud postmodernist. He believes that there is no such thing as historical truth, only a collection of narratives as numerous as the participants in any given event or process; and each narrative, each perspective, is as valid and legitimate, as true, as the next. Moreover, every narrative is inherently political and, consciously or not, serves political ends. Each historian is justified in shaping his narrative to promote particular political purposes. Shlomo Aronson, an Israeli political scientist, years ago confronted Pappe with the ultimate problem regarding historical relativism: if all narratives are equally legitimate and there is no historical truth, then the narrative of Holocaust deniers is as valid as that of Holocaust affirmers. Pappe did not offer a persuasive answer, beyond asserting lamely that there exists a large body of indisputable oral testimony affirming that the Holocaust took place."

It would be interesting to know what threats against Iran were made behind the scenes: "Iran released 15 British sailors today as a "gift" to the people of Britain in a dramatic end to a two-week ordeal that had triggered a new diplomatic crisis between Tehran and the West. As relatives and friends popped champagne corks in Britain, the naval personnel were seen on state television chatting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after his surprise announcement of their release. British Prime Minister Tony Blair hailed their release and thanked "our friends and allies in the region who played their part" amid unconfirmed reports that Syria and Qatar had helped bring about a peaceful resolution. He said Britain, which took the issue to the UN Security Council last week, had taken a "firm but calm" approach, "not negotiating but not confronting either". However, Iran's hardline president - who saved his dramatic announcement until nearly the end of the press conference - still lashed out at Britain over its handling of the crisis and decorated a Revolutionary Guards officer who commanded the operation in which the Britons were seized. The overnight development followed the release in Baghdad of an Iranian diplomat kidnapped in Iraq in February in an abduction Tehran had blamed on US forces."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I found this immense anti-daycare website when searching the web.
I guess this University of Oxford study isn't the only one that slams daycares.