Over the last forty years or so, children have been gradually shifting from parental home care, to nursery school or other types of day care. The percentage of mothers with children under the age of 6, and working full time jobs outside of the home, increased from 12% in 1947, to over 70% as of today. About 15-20% of these children are actually in two or more different forms of day care throughout the week. Due to the high employment turnover and the low pay offered to day care providers, the average nursery or after school day care center in the United States is arguably mediocre at best; although there are certainly exceptions to this statement.
It has been shown by researchers that average and below average child care puts a child at risk for developmental delays or impairments in language abilities, cognitive development, as well as lower ratings on a scale of emotional and social wellbeing; those in non-parental care for more than thirty hours a week are also at an increased risk for stress-related behavioral problems later on in life. Children with families living in poverty are more likely to be receiving poorer-quality care than affluent families who can afford higher-quality nursery schools.
Children are at an even greater risk when there are multiple-child care arrangements over the course of the week; the “juggling” between day-care centers, relatives, neighbors, and babysitters increases antisocial behaviors while decreasing the development of prosocial behaviors. Girls with difficult temperaments who are considered high maintenance, may be at a greater risk for being affected negatively due to the “juggling”.
Not surprisingly, nursery and day-care workers report aggression and disruptive behavior to be the greatest challenge when dealing with the children; research has shown that aggressive tendencies as a toddler predict aggressive behavior later on in the child’s life. Further compounding the problem, evidence a correlation between merely being exposed to aggressive behavior in childhood, and an increased risk of juvenile delinquency and antisocial behavior in adulthood.
Attending a poor quality day care and other various child-care arrangements, along with peer rejection and an early life of poverty, all contribute to the development of an adult criminal mindset. The next post will be a discussion of parental and familial risk factors. A nurturing family environment with adequate parental guidance is arguably one of the most influential components in preventing antisocial behavior in adolescence.