- Who are the children? Parts of the bill refer to children as persons under 18 years of age. Do all children from birth to the 18th birthday experience the same effects from group care? No, certainly not, and to claim that they do is to fly in the face of the well-established principle of developmentally appropriate practice, a guideline based on both common sense and observation of different care needs at different stages of development. The children to whom the bill’s statements might apply are infants and toddlers, who are far more vulnerable to the effects of caregiving quality than are older children-- and certainly than adolescents.
the science now show that children suffer the stated damage from living in
all institutions, by virtue of their being institutions? No;
the evidence is that neglect by caregivers distorts developmental trajectories
in early life. Institutions may be highly neglectful, and no one has
forgotten the ghastly Romanian warehouses (incidentally, these throve where
abortion and contraception were prohibited). “Natural experiments”, like
the Hampstead nurseries administered by Anna Freud during World War II,
the Bulldogs Bank children who came as a small group of toddlers from a
concentration camp, and the “children’s house” residents of the traditional
kibbutz, have all shown that
excellent care and development can be achieved in a non-family setting.
the science show immediate effects of institutional life?
No, certainly not. Length of time spent in even the worst institution will
have a significant effect on the developmental trajectory for most
children, and none are instantaneously affected. (The reasoning behind
this exaggeration is not at all clear to me.)
the science show lasting and possibly irreparable damage from
institutional life for all children? No, it does
not. The English-Romanian Adoption study followed over 300 adopted
children into adolescence (Rutter et al, Deprivation-Specific Psychological Patterns: Effects of Institutional
Deprivation [Monographs of the Society for Research in Child
Development, Serial No. 295, Vol. 75, No. 1, 2010). Rutter’s study
concluded that “A striking finding at all ages was the heterogeneity in
outcome. Thus, even with the children who had the most prolonged
experience of institutional care, there were some who at age 11 showed no
sign of abnormal functioning on any of the domains we assessed. Conversely,
there was a substantial proportion of children who showed impairments in
multiple domains of functioning” (p. 14). This heterogeneity suggests that
institutional care may be only one of many factors that interact with
genetic background and post-adoptive care to determine a child’s
the science show an inability to form emotional bonds with others?
This is difficult to answer, because the bill does not define “emotional
bonds” in any way. However, if we consider this in term of age-appropriate
attachment behavior: No, it does not. Of the children Rutter’s group
studied, there were cases where children were unusually friendly to people
outside the adoptive family, but by the time they reached adolescence most
of these children were viewed positively as outgoing and socially engaging.
Megan Gunnar, writing in the Deprivation-Specific
volume, proposed that these behaviors, sometimes defined as “attachment
disorders”, were not in fact caused by differences in attachment.
FURTHER ADDENDUM: https://www.facebook.com/StopCHIFF lets you state your opinion of this bill.