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Day care is getting a bad rap: Gentle Leahcim Newton proved it

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Date published: 5/6/2001

YOU MAY HAVE seen an obituary in the paper last week for Leahcim Newton. It might not have been noteworthy for most readers aside from the fact that Leahcim was only 20 when she died.

Like many other parents in the area, I knew Leahcim because she had helped out our child-care provider after school and in the summertime.

She was a sweet and kind person, and she loved kids. You could see it in her smile. Our little girl always said how nice she was.

Leahcim also loved pets and just a year ago was looking forward to a career of working with animals when a routine visit to her doctor for back pain revealed a rare form of cancer.

It's a sad, sad story. But Leahcim will be remembered, and there are plenty of children out there who are better off for having known her.

I'm thinking about child care these days not only because of Leahcim but also because of the recent reports on studies about children who have grown up with child care.

People should always be wary of studies. Researchers, no matter how fair they say they're trying to be, may give an inadvertent spin to their numbers.

So when they say that a certain percentage of kids who have spent a lot of time in day care show aggression, how are they measuring the variables? How do they measure aggression? All kids grab a toy from another child once in a while, but what is the frequency or level of violence involved? Is there comparable information for kids who have been kept home until kindergarten?

And isn't a little aggression a good thing? A child shouldn't be a pushover for a bully. Heck, I wish our son would be a little more aggressive on the soccer field. We're not getting him involved in sports in hopes that he'll be a wallflower.

Now, a follow-up report on that study, which struck fear in so many parents of day-care children, suggests those numbers might not show anything out
of the ordinary after all.

I've discovered during six years of parenting that some parents of day-care kids think they are frowned upon by parents of home-raised kids, and vice versa.

I know kids raised under both circumstances and they're all terrific.

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