Study of Children Links Aggression, Longer Time in Care; Likelihood of Problem Behavior Seen Manifested by Sixth Grade

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 27, 2007 | Go to article overview

Study of Children Links Aggression, Longer Time in Care; Likelihood of Problem Behavior Seen Manifested by Sixth Grade


Byline: Joyce Howard Price, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The more time that children spend in child care before kindergarten, the more likely they are to show aggression and other problem behavior in sixth grade, a large federally funded study has found.

Earlier research supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), which also financed this latest study, had found this same connection among children in the early elementary grades.

The new NICHD research, released yesterday, "indicated that children with more experience in center settings continued to manifest somewhat more problem behaviors through sixth grade," the authors wrote in a report published in the March/April issue of the journal Child Development.

"The fact that this result was not moderated by age means that this seemingly adverse consequence of center-based care did not dissipate, as did so many other effects of amount of child care on social functioning detected previously," said the authors.

Jay Belsky, director of the Institute for the Study of Children, Families and Social Issues and a psychology professor at Birkbeck University in London, was the lead author of the article.

In an analysis of more than 1,300 children tracked since birth as part of the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, sixth-grade teachers reported that those who spent more time in early child care were more likely than other children to "be disobedient at school," to "get in many fights" and to "argue a lot."

But James Griffin, science officer at NICHD in charge of the study under way since 1991, cautioned that youngsters with more time in child care had only "slightly more" behavioral problems than other children.

Mr. Griffin said sixth-grade teachers involved in the research had a "problem checklist," which they used to rate children on behaviors such as bullying, bragging, arguing, fighting, lying, cheating, cruelty and destructiveness, including arson.

He and the researchers stressed that although children who had spent greater time in center care in early childhood were more likely to score higher on teacher reports of aggression and disobedience, their behaviors were in the normal range and they were not considered clinically disordered. …

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