Is childcare a form of abuse?

Author Mem Fox has opened up a controversial debate by claiming that childcare for very young children is child abuse.

According to this article at, Mem believes that society will look back on the trend of allowing babies only a few weeks old to be put into childcare and wonder, “How could we have allowed that child abuse to happen?”.

“I just tremble,” she said. “I don’t know why some people have children at all if they know that they can only take a few weeks off work.

“I know you want a child, and you have every right to want a child, but does the child want you if you are going to put it in childcare at six weeks?

“I don’t think the child wants you, to tell the honest truth. I know that’s incredibly controversial.”

It’s a topic that we often choose not to talk about because no one likes to be criticised for the way they bring up their children.

I must admit that I get concerned with the age at which some children are handed over to others for care. I also wonder if career is so important to some people, why they choose to bring children into the equation.

There are always circumstances that will mean that a child will need care from those other than parents at a young age but the care of the very young in childcare centre is becoming a big industry. Parents are planning to have children and then be back at work within weeks.

Whichever side you’re on in the debate, I think it’s a good thing to be discussing. We need to decide if this is the way we want our society to go. Is Mem right? If we haven’t got the time to put into bringing up our kids should we really be having them?

She said a Queensland childcare worker had told her earlier this year: “We’re going to look back on this time from the late ’90s onwards – with putting children in childcare so early in their first year of life for such long hours – and wonder how we have allowed that child abuse to happen”.

“It’s just awful. It’s awful for the mothers as well. It’s completely heartbreaking,” Fox said. “You actually have to say to yourself, ‘If I have to work this hard and if I’m never going to see my kid and if they are going to have a tremendous stress in childcare, should I be doing it?’

“Babies have much higher levels of stress in childcare.”

I’d be interested in your point of view.

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