Following on with the theme from last post, Future Pundit also deals with the issues of the effect upon the brain of neglect in early infancy. The study he quotes leaves a couple of rather significant questions hanging, namely are there any other studies out there which look at vasopressin and oxytocin levels of young children in day care? Are the children's levels of these hormones lower and if so, do these have the long term consequences? These really do seem to pretty crucial questions, particularly with the government drive to get mothers of infants back to work.
Oliver James in the Guardian seems to think the question of whether there are long term consequences from early childhood experiences already answered. He writes that the years up to age three are "the crucial time for establishing mental health".
He is also of the opinion that the government agenda does not take this into account: "Sure Start has slithered away from an emphasis on meeting children's needs to getting mothers out to work".
This runs counter to the desires of most mothers of young children:
"Most mothers of under-threes either do not want to do paid work or only want to do a small amount. Despite being accorded a status lower than street-sweeper, only 13 per cent of mothers of under-threes work full-time (40 per cent work part-time, mostly less than 20 hours a week)."
It seems that the decades of believing that parents could have it all are properly on the way out now. We now know for certain how awful and stressful it is for us to leave young infants in the hands of strangers. We are beginning to listen to our instincts again, since these are, in all probability, telling us something pretty important: ie that neglect in one form or another, (and this includes leaving child in the hands of a less attentive carer), is damaging. We can see the immediate damage in the screams of the moment. Perhaps soon we will show that it has long term physiological consequences and whilst this last may be almost too painful to contemplate, it is better we know so that we can attempt to do something about it.
Vasopressin and oxytocin nasal sprays anyone?
HT for Oliver James: Alice (no longer a Libertarian) Bacchini