NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Study Finds Problem Behavior in Day-Care Four-Year-Olds

July 16, 2003

The more time children spend in day-care, the more likely they are to be aggressive or disobedient, according to a report by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development stated.

Other findings of the study:

  • The link occurred across all family backgrounds and all types and quality of care.
  • Behavioral problems noted included disobeying adults, destroying other people's property, arguing, fighting, lying, cheating, screaming, bragging and bullying.
  • The researchers found that the link between long hours of care and high levels of problem behavior was particularly strong among children in center-based day-care.

Some studies have urged that day-care be limited to 20 to 30 hours a week to avoid problem behavior.

Nevertheless, the Children's Defense Fund, a self-styled children's advocacy group, is lobbying Congress to increase child-care funding by $11.25 billion over five years.

Source: Cheryl Wetzstein, "Federal Study Links Time Spent in Day Care to Aggressiveness," Washington Times, July 16, 2003; Jay Belsky, "The Dangers of Day Care," Wall Street Journal, July 16, 2003; based on Jay Belskey, et. al., "Study of Early Child Care (SECC) and Youth Development," July 16, 2003, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

For WSJ text (subscription required),,SB105831597256590300-search,00.html


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