How many tax-funded studies are needed before parents comprehend that farming their children’s education out to strangers in institutional settings may be harmful to their kids’ social skills?

A new report published March 26, derived from the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, exposes alarming results for parents who use day care and the public school system as babysitting services.

Since 1991, researchers with the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development have studied around 1,000 American children kept in “non-maternal child care” from birth through 54 months of age.

While this longitudinal multi-million dollar study on the lives of institutionalized children has been slogging along for 16 years, other researchers have been studying another group of youngsters, namely, those being homeschooled. Oddly enough, all these studies lead to the same logical conclusion: Home is where true childhood socialization is built. If you want a child to act like an animal, then send him to the funny farm commonly known as the public school and day-care system. If you want him to be civilized, teach him at home.


According to the NICHD report, children with experience in child-care centers exhibited more harmful behaviors such as aggression and disobedience. In fact, the study found that the more time spent in day care the higher the incidence of behavior problems through sixth grade.

Noting several long-term effects regarding the behavior of children in child care, researchers posited that one reason for the link between day care and crude behavior is that child care providers lack “the time to address behavior problems” and “may not be able to provide sufficient adult attention or guidance to address problems that may emerge when groups of young children are together.”

Did this conclusion really require a huge taxpayer-funded study to realize? Any honest day-care worker, or public school teacher for that matter, could have told the researchers that they can’t possibly provide adequate supervision for two dozen immature children.

Where did we ever get the idea that emotionally undeveloped children are best socialized in positive behaviors while spending all day with other juveniles? And all under the exhausted watch of frazzled strangers? How did we get this stupid? Don’t ask.

Incredibly, NICHD researchers are increasingly curious as to how these behavior problems will play out in the children’s high school years. Perhaps we can help them with a few statistics already in full play:

  • Half of all 12th-graders have used illegal drugs.

  • One out of 12 young people attempt suicide each year.

  • Half of all teenagers reported drinking alcohol within the past 30 days.

  • 40 percent have experimented with self-injury (are “cutters”).

  • About half of all teenagers under 18 are sexually active.

Offering hope, a study conducted by Dr. Brian Ray of the National Home Education Research Institute gives parents a vision of what is possible should they choose to take their children’s education into their own hands. This highly comprehensive study, commissioned in 2003 by the Home School Legal Defense Association, surveyed over 7,300 adults who were homeschooled. The result: Children reared and educated by “maternal caregivers” in the home far surpass their institutionalized peers in both socialization and academics.

Another social development study conducted by professor Larry Shyers from the University of Central Florida concluded that home-educated children exhibit significantly better behavior than their public school peers. The study suggests this positive behavior may result because homeschooled children tend to imitate their parents, while institutionalized children model themselves after their peers. What a novel idea!

The late Dr. Raymond Moore with the Hewitt Research Center quoted renowned psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner’s assertion that the withdrawal of parents in the rearing of their children is “a major factor threatening the breakdown of the socialization process in America.” Indeed, Bronfenbrenner coined the phrase “social contagion” to describe the negative peer pressures contracted like diseases inside institutionalized settings.

The facts are in, aren’t they? Does the government need to continue spending our tax money to figure this out?

Maybe it’s because most parents opting to institutionalize their children don’t get it yet. They still think the definition of socialization is corralling unruly kids together for eight hours a day, 40 hours per week. They evidently believe that it gets better when their children grow older, in spite of the fact too many institutionalized teenagers want to dress like streetwalkers, engage in illicit sex and don’t understand the real world.

According to Chris Klicka, Senior Counsel with the Home School Legal Defense Association, “the only ‘socialization’ or aspect of the ‘real world’ which [children] miss out on by not attending the public school is unhealthy peer pressure, crime and immorality. Of course, the average homeschooler wisely learns about these things from afar instead of being personally involved in crime or immorality or perhaps from being a victim.”

The truth is that all children are socialized. It’s just that some are more properly socialized than others, which enables them to grow to real maturity.

Did you place your children in public school so they’ll be happy, healthy, well socialized and able to deal with the real world? If so, you’d better get them out, and fast.



Related special offers:

“The Harsh Truth About Public Schools”

“The Little Book of Big Reasons to Homeschool”



Olivia St. John is a freelance writer with almost 20 years of experience as a home educator. Her work has been featured in several online publications and she is currently working on a book promoting home education.

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