Dominion Post 28/05/2011
Children as young as two and three are forming gangs of “thugs” – swearing at, biting and kicking other kids and teachers. Dame Lesley Max, chief executive of children’s agency Great Potentials, said younger children were becoming more physically aggressive and less compliant, as parenting took place in an increasingly fast-paced life. Part of this resulted in unstable, “chaotic” home environments. “There’s no way a child could come out of some of those environments unaffected, when there’s violence in the home and there’s issues, maybe mental health or drug and alcohol.”
….Though increasing aggression was a problem in low socio-economic areas, it was not confined there. Another three-year-old boy from an “excellent home” with loving parents became aggressive toward other kids and would come home with black eyes and bite marks. From 11 months, the boy spent long days in childcare in a stressful environment. “His mother said they were like a little gang of thugs … We need to ask ourselves what is the optimal dose of out-of-family care, how much is enough, how much is too much?” She had concerns about “early, extensive and non-maternal care”. Women were facing increasing financial and peer pressure to go back to work, she said. “They’re saying, `The baby’s two or three months and you’re not thinking about getting back to work? What’s the matter with you?”‘ She said it was time to look at government funding to allow more in-home care, for example for longer maternity leave or to attach funding to a child and not through early childhood education centres.