Due to time constraints, I would like to take the last question.
Mr. C: Question on the relationship between juvenile crime and child care in the United States
Listening to today's discussion, I hope that mothers will learn how to do a good job raising children through quick access to information on child rearing and from their children. In terms of the flexibility and quality of child care, governmental support is, of course, necessary so people can take child care leave more easily and fathers can go home early to look after their children. I was very much impressed with the story that mothers feel like having another child when they meet a good child care provider.
I have a question for Dr. Friedman. In Japan many crimes have been committed by 17-year-olds. Juvenile crimes are taking place in the United States as well. Do you have any information on the child care background of the children who committed those crimes?
Friedman: Response to Mr. C's question
I don't know of any scientific study that found links between young children spending time in child care and delinquency or juvenile crime among pre-adolescents or adolescents. However, I know that this possibility has been voiced and exists in the public's collective mind. When I talk individually to people, for example, when I met people on a day tour I took here in Tokyo, people who learn that I do research on child care raise this issue. They think that because mothers work, their children are going to be delinquent. I am worried about this perception which is not based on fact. Psychologists study the origins of maladjustment and anti-social behavior. This is relevant to the question raised. The crime that comes to our attention is an extreme case of maladjustment and anti-social behavior. Not everyone who is maladjusted or behaving in an antisocial way is killing other people. Engagement in life threatening violence depends not only on the psychological condition of the violent person but also on the availability of weapons. Yet, if nonmaternal care leads to maladjustment or anti social behavior, we need to know about it. Maladjusted people and antisocial people are a problem for themselves and for society, regardless of whether they become violent or not. In the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development we collect information about the social development of children from their birth through middle childhood. We also collect information about the conditions in the family and out of home (child care and school) that influence social development. We will be able to see what are the conditions in the family and in the out-of-home environment that promote maladjustment and anti-social development. We will also be able to identify conditions that deflect maladjustment or antisocial development. I hope we will not find even one case of criminal behavior in our study. But, I don't think it is possible to predict. Studying development prospectively is the only appropriate method for finding out the conditions that are predictive of maladjustment and antisocial development. When one encounters criminal behavior, one can speculate about causes of such behavior in something that happened in the criminal's past. But in order to reach scientifically based conclusions, one needs to have a prospective, longitudinal study. So far, there is no scientific data to support the fear that there is a link between child care in early childhood and criminal behavior in later childhood, in pre-adolescence or in adolescence.
Thank you very much. In Japan we have two words; ikuji (child rearing) and hoiku (child care). In the United States there is only one word: child care. At the very beginning, Director Kobayashi called for "child care as a team." I hope that the term "child care" will bring child care providers and mothers together and become a concept that support child rearing by society as a whole. There are many keywords regarding "high-quality child care" on the screen. Along with the advice of speakers, we hope that these will be useful to you in future child care.
Last, but not least, may I ask Dr. Friedman to make some comments on what is universally important in child care in any country? Dr. Friedman, please.
One point that I would like to convey is that child care, like the family, is a human invention; it is not good or bad in and of itself. We can make it a success, or we can make it a failure. I think this is something very important to think about because in the public's mind, or at least in the opinion of many individuals, child care is inherently bad, and full time mothering is inherently good. These people believe that mothers need to be the only ones taking care of young children, especially in the first two or three years of life.
The second point is that child care is a tool that families use in order to help them raise their children. Child care is not a replacement for family and cannot assume all the very important responsibilities that families have toward their children.
The third point is a point that the panelists and members of the audience have mentioned before. Making child care into a useful and successful institution requires work at the level of the society in general and at the level of the individual family. I would like to elaborate a little. If the society needs the labor force of women, it needs to provide child care arrangements that are safe and which promote the development of children according to the values and goals of that society. Not every society has the same goals. In a country like the U.S., different ethnic groups have somewhat different goals for child development, especially for social development of children. Their goals differ along the dimensions of individuality versus being a member of a team, subjecting your own will to the will of others. Social groups vary in terms of what they want to achieve in terms nurturing the development of children. Social groups vary in terms of the kind of people they want children to become. Each society needs to decide for itself and make sure that the child care situations that are provided will support the development of the social values that are important for that society.
In the U.S., the labor force of women is needed, yet individual states and the federal government are yet to make an adequate investment in resources for the safety and the well-being of children of employed mothers. For some reason, the society has not come to a conclusion about how much public funds to invest in child care. While there is recognition that children require quality child care while their mothers work, policy makers and early child development specialists are not in agreement about what is sufficient and necessary quality. Some policy makers think that all we need to know is what is the minimal quality that can be provided before there will be detrimental effects on the development of children. These policy makers don't want to invest public funds in the optimal development of children, perhaps because they believe that early child rearing is the responsibility of the family.
It is not only the society in general that needs the labor force of women. Employers need the labor force of women. Some employers recognize that child care is very important to the peace of mind of employed mothers of young children. If the child is in good child care, the mother can focus more on her work and she can produce more. Some employers recognize that they can attract and keep qualified women if they provide child care or if they provide benefits that allow women to pay for quality child care. But, the majority of employers do not do anything or do very little to help their employees who are mothers of young children find good child care.
It is not only at the level of the society and the work place that we need to consider the merits of child care. It is also at the level of the individual family. Life adjustments need to be made in order to combine the goal of maternal employment and the well-being of children. I heard the other day that people say, "Well, mothers in Japan are becoming too egocentric. They want only what is good for them." It is hard for me to believe that mothers are egocentric, that is, caring for themselves at the expense of their children. The people who blame mothers for being egocentric need to understand that employed mothers cannot continue to provide for their families and young children exactly the same services, activities and experiences that they provided when mothers were full time housewives. This does not mean that if children do not have exactly the same experiences as children of a generation ago, they will not grow into sensitive, intelligent and productive members of the society. I will repeat what I just said. I believe that there is more than one way to get to the goal of rearing physically and psychologically healthy human beings. There is more than one route to raising cultured human beings. If women are working full time or even part time, child rearing practices need to be changed to accommodate the fact that mother works.
First of all, families need to get help in raising their children. Families need to be aware of what is high-quality of care and what is poor quality of care for children. Research suggests that parents are quite ignorant about what makes for quality child care. It is very important to provide education about what child rearing behaviors and activities promote healthy child development. Such knowledge will help families provide good care both directly themselves and through the child care that they select for their children. Right now, parents go for convenience and affordability of child care, less so for quality. It is important to educate families to do otherwise.
I argued that when mothers of young children work, child rearing practices need to be changed to accommodate the fact that mother works. Families need to adjust not only in terms of getting the help of others (non-parents). Families also need to adjust in terms of the distribution of responsibilities of child rearing, and in terms of the utilization of the time when parents are not on the job. In this symposium there has been reference to the fact that fathers are not giving enough support to mothers. They don't participate or participate minimally in child rearing. But, if mothers are employed, it is impossible for them to carry the whole pleasure and load of child rearing. Families need to think together about the distribution of labor within the family regarding child rearing and about the distribution of labor regarding other activities that are not construed as child rearing. It is difficult for a mother to be the person that does everything around the home, including taking care of the physical and emotional needs of her children, and at the same time, to contribute to the income of the family through her employment. Women that try to do it all are stressed and cannot be as sensitive to others in the family as they want to be, and as they could be if the workload of being a parent and housekeeper was shared with others in the family.
Families may also consider adjusting to maternal employment and child rearing by changing the number of hours that each of the parents works away from home. Maybe we need to rethink the number of hours that people work rather than thinking in terms of "all or none". Instead of arguing that mothers shouldn't work and fathers should work full-time or more than full-time, one could argue that each parent could work part time. I know that this is easily said. There are a lot societal and work related pressures against such an arrangement. But, maybe society needs to rethink those issues. Basically what I am saying is that child rearing and child care are not just issues for the mother to consider and to solve. They are family issues. They are societal issues. Social norms and goals will need to change in order to provide for maternal employment and for the optimal development of the next generation.
Comments on universally important factor of child rearing
(1) Child care, like family is a human invention; it is not good or bad in and of itself. We can make it a success, or we can make it a failure.
(2) Child care is a tool that families use in order to help them raise their children. Child care is not a replacement for family and cannot assume all the important responsibilities that families have toward their children.
(3) Making child care into a useful and successful institution requires work at the level of the society in general and at the level of the individual family.
(4) If the society needs the labor force of women, it needs to provide child care arrangements that are safe and which promote the development of children according to the values and goals of that society. In the U.S., the labor force of women is needed, yet individual states and the federal government are yet to make an adequate investment of resources in the safety and the well-being of children of employed mothers. There is recognition that children require quality child care while their mothers work but policy makers and early childhood development specialists do not agree on what is sufficient and necessary quality.
(5) Employers who need the labor force of women are beginning to recognize that they can attract and keep qualified women if they provide child care or benefits to allow women to pay for quality child care. But, the majority do not actually do anything to help their employees with meeting their child care needs.
(6) At the level of the individual family, life adjustments need to be made in order to combine the goal of mother employment and the well-being of children.
--Families need to be aware of what is high-quality child care and what is poor quality child care. Research shows that parents are quite ignorant about what makes for quality child care. They go for convenience and affordability, less so for quality. It is important to educate parents. Otherwise, they will not know what to look for and what to insist on.
--Families need to adjust in terms of the distribution of responsibilities of child rearing, and in terms of the utilization of the time parents are not on the job. Maybe they also need to adjust in terms of the number of hours they work away from home. But the latter depends on the employers too; and possibly on the adjustment of society.
In summary, in the technologically developed world, the labor force of women is needed. It is needed at the societal level (the economy needs more workers), at the family level (one income is no longer sufficient) and, finally, at the personal level (women want to contribute to the culture and to their family through their paid work). We cannot stop these realities. We can, however, accommodate to them by figuring out what is high-quality care, by disseminating our information, and by applying our knowledge in real life.
Thank you very much. This concludes today's panel discussion. Thank you very much for coming today.