Dominion Post 8 Feb 2012
Conservative lobby group Family First is using a report from a controversial academic to claim day care is detrimental to children.
The group issued today the report that claims spending long periods of time in day care, and away from parents, is detrimental to a child’s long-term development.
However, the study, by Dr Aric Sigman, hit the headlines last year in Britain, where it was questioned by experts. Dr Sigman is also behind a 2009 claim that Facebook and other social networking sites cause cancer. He was accused of “cherry-picking” evidence and ignoring that which did not support this theory.
Writing in The Guardian last year, Dorothy Bishop, professor of developmental neuropsychology at Oxford, disputed his claims and questioned his credentials.
“Sigman ignores or selectively reports evidence for this more nuanced position,” she wrote. “He justifies his one-sided approach to the evidence on the basis that “while open-mindedness has its place in academia, it is a luxury children can’t afford”.
Family First commissioned its report, Who Cares, to look at the increasing number of children and infants spending time in early childhood education while their parents are at work.
Advocates say staying at home with their children is a luxury that many parents can no longer afford.
Hayley Whitaker, early childhood spokeswoman for the NZEI union, said parental policies in New Zealand were “abhorrent” compared to other countries.
“We should be able to give people the choice to be at home with their children. They shouldn’t have to feel that they’re forced back into the workforce.”
However, there was a lot of evidence to show high-quality early childhood education benefited children, she said.
“Everything in moderation, really.”