Documentary outlines long-term benefits of early intervention programs addressing behaviour problems in young children

I’ve long had an interest, especially given my career in elementary education, in research related to brain development in early childhood and the long-term impact of optimal – as contrasted to suboptimal – conditions for children’s growth and learning.

In this regard, I was really interested to hear a broadcast on March 26, 2014 on CBC Radio’s The Current regarding a documentary, “Angry Kids, Stressed Out parents.”

The caption for an illustration at a link (no longer an active link) regarding the above-noted documentary reads: “The Journal of the American Medical Association believes the intensity of modern life may be causing behavioural problems with children. More kids are diagnosed with mental health conditions than with physical ones. (Tiz Beretta/Bountiful Films).”

I have seen the documentary. It’s an excellent film. I’m really pleased I had the opportunity to view it on the CBC’s Doc Zone channel.

The CBC radio program speaks of a brain scan of a three year old who is growing up in a stimulating, nurturing environment. Active engagement of the brain is evident in the scan.

The brain scan of a three year old child living under conditions of “grinding poverty” shows a markedly different neurological profile. Much less active engagement of the brain is evident in the scan.

The absence of helpful early childhood learning experiences, according to the overview outlined by The Current, gives rise to effects that are similar to those of abuse or neglect.

The problem can be addressed through early intervention, which seek to enable a child to develop suitable skills at self regulation.

Early intervention programs

The cost of such early intervention programs aimed at addressing poverty-related problems is minimal compared to the costs to society of the subset of young children who develop behaviour problems that persist into adolescence and adulthood. Acts of violence committed by individuals in the latter category give rise to extensive costs to society, including but not restricted to the costs of incarceration. The costs of early intervention programs are minimal, in particular when compared to the costs when early intervention does not occur.

The documentary addresses issues which are addressed in updates and content of some previous posts at this website.

Updates

An Aug. 19, 2016 Brookings Institution article is entitled: “The long-term impact of the Head Start program.” The opening sentence reads: “A growing body of rigorous evidence suggests that policy interventions aimed at early childhood bear fruit for decades.”

An April 13, 2017 CBC The Current article is entitled: “Roughhousing benefits kids, suggests Quebec daycare guide.”

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