Disciples not discipline



National Bullying Month

As a society we are becoming more open about talking about bullying. But it is still an enormous problem for many children and even many adults. We are looking at strategies to help victims of bullying and for ways of teaching children how to protect them selves from bullies.

In my experience in teaching I think we need to look to the root and educate teachers and parents. Everyday I see teachers bullying children in many forms or see teachers giving children mixed messages about what to do about bullying. “Stand up for yourself”, but “never be rude, loud or rough”. “If someone does something you don’t like tell the teacher” but ” Don’t tattle”. I often see children who are conflicted because they have not been taught any correct conflict resolution skills. Teachers are constantly sorting out children’s problems, often unfairly.Image

I think it is time we start to look at how we are treating children and we will quickly see where the bullying behaviours come from.  We can not change others but we can change ourselves. And as positive role models we can help the future generation.

Has the government been selling out Australia’s children?

The Federal Government hopes that the growth of private child care providers will solve the runaway demand for new child care places. But combining the profit motive with the provision of quality care for children is proving to be an uneasy fit.

New evidence from Australia Institute research suggests that it is not the profit motive itself which has a decisive impact on the quality of care offered to children, but the methods and ethos of the corporations that have been taking over the sector.

Late in 2005, a nationwide survey conducted by the Institute asked 578 child care staff what they thought about the quality of care provided at their centre of employment. According to staff, community-based centres provide the highest quality of care, closely followed by independent private centres.


Corporate chains – which now own around a quarter of centres in Australia – offer the lowest quality of care on all indicators surveyed, in some cases markedly lower than that provided by community-based centres.

These results are striking precisely because independent private and corporate chain centres have previously been grouped together as the “private-for-profit” sector. Yet, on the basis of staff perceptions of the quality of care provided, these two groups are quite different.

For example, when asked if they feel there is time to develop individual relationships with the children they care for, half of independent private centre staff said there is always time, compared with 25 per cent of corporate chain staff.

This is likely to be at least partly the result of higher staff-to-child ratios in independent private centres: 37 per cent of those staff said their centre employed more staff than legally required, compared with only 14 per cent at corporate chain centres.

Corporate chains often boast of the superiority of their buildings and equipment, yet staff at both community and independent private child care centres are much happier with a variety of equipment for children. The difference in quality of care extends to something as basic as the quantity and type of food provided for children.

Almost three quarters of independent private centre staff say the children are always provided with nutritious food, and enough of it, compared with only about half of corporate chain staff. This suggests that the interests of shareholders are put before those of the children.

In a question that proved to be particularly revealing, staff were asked if they would send their own child, aged under two years, to the centre where they worked or a centre which offered comparable quality of care. The rate of dissatisfaction with the quality of care provided at their own centres was much higher among corporate chain staff: 21 per cent said they would not send their own child to a centre like the one where they work due to quality concerns, compared with only 4 to 5 per cent at community and independent private centres.

So it appears that for-profit status in itself is not the cause of the marked difference in the quality of care offered to children. The results of the new study suggest that cost-cutting across the board is much more characteristic of corporate chains than of independent private centres. This is likely to result from the structures of corporate governance, which legally oblige directors to act in the best interests of the company. These interests are understood in financial terms, and not primarily in terms of the outcomes for children.

The Federal Government policy of promoting private sector child care providers without regard for the difference between independent providers and corporate chains has led to a situation where at present approximately one quarter of all children in long day care are now being cared for by corporate chains.

With evidence now appearing to suggest that the quality of care in these centres is markedly lower than elsewhere, the government will need to act to discourage any further domination of long day care in Australia by the corporate chains until it can be shown that the quality of the care they provide is comparable with the community-based and independent private centres.

Beyond tightening up the centre accreditation processes, as announced recently, the government should consider offering capital grants to new community-based centres. Parents are more likely to enrol their children in higher quality centres, and so this measure should result in children moving from lower quality corporate centres to higher quality community-based ones, without disadvantaging independent private providers. Such action by the government would give corporate chains a strong incentive to raise their standards, as well as hamper any further expansion until they have done so.

Author: Emma Rush is Associate Lecturer in Ethics and Philosophy at Charles Sturt University. http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=4374

Battery Farmed Kids

Battery Farmed Kids.


As I stand in the infants’ room surrounded by screaming babies I can’t help but wonder what damage childcare is doing to the future generation. Babies are being put in to childcare at an alarming rate and centres are not able to cope. Centres in Sydney have up to 5-year waiting lists and parents are having to put their babies on the lists before they are even pregnant. I get up to ten phone calls a day with desperate mothers trying to find childcare for their baby.

But is the real cost of putting your child in care to pay your bills, your child’s healthy development?


Childcare has become big business and where there is money to be made there is big corporations. But can corporations really offer quality nurturing childcare? As the demand for childcare has increased the government has helped these cooperation’s and families by allowing more and more children to be put into care. In 2005 the maximum of children a centre was allowed was 90, now we have centres with over 200.  The only restriction for babies is a centre can not have over 90. You can not provide a quality nurturing environment with over 200 children and 90 babies.

This sounds more like a battery farm then a nurturing place for development.


Babies and children need to form attachments for healthy development. A child usually forms this attachment with their Mother and later in their life their father. After 9 months of age a child can begin to make attachments to others such as one or two child care teachers if need be. It is not possible for a child to make multiple secure attachments to multiple teachers. Research suggests that failure to form secure attachments early in life can have a negative impact on behavior in later childhood and throughout the life. Children diagnosed with oppositional-defiant disorder (ODD), conduct disorder (CD) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) frequently display attachment problems.

Research has also shown that babies in care have greater levels of cortisol in their blood, which is counteractive to learning. It has also shown that their brains develop differently to babies who are nurtured at home. They develop more of a survival brain, which is less emotionally stable and can have a lower IQ.

Research also indicates that early attachments can have a serious impact on later relationships. For example, those who are securely attached in childhood tend to have good self-esteem, strong romantic relationships and the ability to self-disclose to others. As adults, they tend to have healthy, happy and lasting relationships.

Parents are told that babies benefit from the educational programs and social side of childcare, but are we really this naïve?

We all know that all babies need for development is to be with their Mother. In fact research has proven again and again that babies brains develop far better when they are close to their parents.

We also know that children under the age of two are ego driven and have no interest in making friendships.

So they will gain no social or educational benefit from childcare before the age of two.



I understand that many families struggle to pay bills and childcare may be their only option, but I am also concerned that we are offering parents low quality childcare and our children are paying the price. I am gravely concerned for the next generation and have no doubt that growing up in these un-nurturing conditions will have negative effects on children for life.


Is this what we want of our future generations?