A minister last night called on nurseries to scrap controversial kiss and cuddle bans imposed to protect them from abuse allegations – saying they were putting children’s development at risk. This is from the Daily Mail…
Dr Dan Poulter, the children’s health minister, demanded nurseries review ‘heavy-handed and draconian’ policies which mean thousands of toddlers are spending whole days in childcare without any comfort from staff.
He said it was ‘extraordinary and alarming’ that staff are threatened with the sack for attempting to comfort children distraught because they are missing their parents or because they have grazed their knee.
The minister, who also works as a hospital doctor in women’s and children’s health, said such policies were ‘damaging to a child’s health, wellbeing, and future life chances’.
The Daily Mail revealed earlier this week that an increasing number of nurseries were imposing bans on staff kissing children in the wake of the conviction of paedophile nursery worker Vanessa George.
An investigation has found that others instruct staff not to cuddle toddlers, or let them sit on their laps, for all but the shortest periods – claiming that the simple acts of affection harm the independence of the child.
But child development experts say the lack of contact threatens the well-being of children. They warn that denying young children affection can have a devastating impact on their development, their happiness and their stress levels.
Dr Poulter called on nurseries who had introduced such policies to urgently review their rules…
The findings of the investigation by daynurseries.co.uk, an online directory of nursery schools, reopened the debate about whether nurseries are the best place to bring up children.
Penny Tassoni, president of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years, said: ‘It is actually the duty of anyone working with young children to offer physical contact.
‘Young children who are not with their parents are likely to produce a stress hormone known as cortisol. Having access to a hug or even holding a hand of a key person can help to reduce anxiety.
‘Policies that are draconian in terms of not allowing children to be reassured are not fit for purpose as they ignore children’s right to being nurtured.’
We had a lot of reaction when the initial story was reported (link below) with many concerned, like Dr Poulter, about the impact of a lack of physical contact and reassurance for children at nurseries. Are Dr Poulter’s comments therefore welcome or do childcare providers also need more reassurance that physical contact will not increase their vulnerability to abuse accusations? Please share in the comments or on twitter…