The MP made the claim to a Commons committee looking into crime prevention. He stated that he believes family breakdowns can have an extremely detrimental effect on young children, causing a slow down in the development of their brains. A statement which shocked family experts, who question his assertion.
In an interview with The Sunday Times he said that children from broken homes usually start education at a disadvantage and rarely catch up.
“Basically what is happening with these children is they are probably going to school with a brain the size of a child of one, as opposed to the brain it should be at the age of three. They are the ones who often arrive in their nurseries unable to speak and have no language at all, have no social skills and are often quite violent,” he said.
Although many people are sceptical about Duncan Smiths comments he is actually basing his theory on research compiled by the Child Trauma Academy in Housten Texas which found that neglect in the first stages of early childhood could affect brain size.
On the opposing side is Katherine Rake, chief executive of the Family and Parenting Institute. She believes that Duncan Smith is generalising about families from poor backgrounds.