Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on June 20, 1976 · Page 208
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 208

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 20, 1976
Page 208
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Page 208 article text (OCR)

Two things strike most Congressmen and staff members about the mail: it reveals a deep public concern for the American family; most letters are based on misinformation and distorted interpretations of the bill. The leaflet plays on some of America's deepest fears, describing the bill as a Communist plot to take from parents the rights and responsibilities of raising'children and turn them over to government-appointed specialists. "The American family is one of the last strongholds this society has," one South Carolina voter warned his Congressman. "The proposed legislation is another step in destroying this cornerstone of democracy." "Will we never learn?" asked another writer. "This legislation is almost a twin brother to what ultimately destroyed Germany." As the family goes... One Oregonian prophesied that "when the family falls, the nation won't be far behind." Not all the opposition to the bill has been prompted by the anonymous leaflet But the anger, the fear, is directly stimulated by the leaflet's opening question--"Raising Children: Government's or Parent's Right?"--and its charges that the bill "smacks of Communism." According to the leaflet, the bill contains a "Charter of Children's Rights" under which parents would no longer be able to punish their children or pass onto them religious or political beliefs. Under the bill, the leaflet charges, children could also sue their parents for deficiencies in the home. The leaflet erroneously names the Congressional Record as the source for several citations in which supporters of the bill are quoted as saying, "We recognize that not parental, but communal forms of upbringing have superiority over all other forms," and as questioning whether we can "trust the family to prepare young children in this country for this new kind of world that is emerging." Soviet methods "This is what has been done and is being done in the Soviet Union," the leaflet concludes. "We elected this Congress, but do we know what it is doing to our freedoms and our rights?" In truth, the Child and Family Services Bill contains no "Charter of Children's Rights," no hint of taking child- rearing away from parents. As Senator Mondale describes it, the bill "seeks to preserve the family by strengthening it." As now written, it would provide money for such services as prenatal care, medical treatment to detect and remedy handicaps in young children, nutritional programs, and day- care programs for working mothers. Participation in all programs offered by the bill would be voluntary and would involve only children whose parents had requested such services. Much of the control over the programs would remain with parents. The bill contains nothing that would change the moral or legal relationship of a parent to his child. The bill's backers Already, a wide range of such civic and religious organizations as the Parent-Teachers Association (PTA), the AFL-CIO and the American Home Economics Association have announced support for child and family services. The bill is addressed, in part, to the 6.5 million preschool and 21 million school-age children with working mothers. In describing the need for child and family services, the bill's supporters cite figures that show infant mortality in the United States to be higher than in 16 other nations, that 40 percent of young children are not immunized against childhood diseases and that 29 percent of urban children do not see a doctor in any given year. According to Judith S. Helms, director of the National Council of Organizations for Children and Youth, families are facing "a time of economic instability " in which "they are finding it difficult to pay for basic necessities, much less the 'luxury* of things like preventive health care." "If the family says help me, then we need to be there," Senator Mondale says. "It is the strong family with its values of love, affection and discipline that gives the child the best chance of making the most out of life." Reputable opposition Like any other legislation, the bill has its faults. Many of the letter writers offer the same arguments against the bill that the National Coalition for Children presented last summer--that it represents government interference in trie lives of private citizens. Congress itself questions the bill's $1.7 billion price tag over three years, how its child and family services would fit in with existing programs and how those services would be administered. But the flood of mail now coming into Congress differs from previous criticism in one important respect--it is based on information so inaccurate that Representative Brademas charged last December that his bill had been attacked by "the tactics of smear and deception, the tactics of Watergate ... and some of the most scurrilous and misleading propaganda that I have ever seen." The irony is that the Child and Family Services Bill aims at strengthening the American family, not destroying it SENDFORA FREE COPT OF AMERICAS NUMBER 1 COUNTRY PUBLICATION EACH MONTH ' All the color and excitement of the Country Music scene--the latest news, in-depth features, and terrific, never-seen-before color photos of the Country Music world! Revealing, original articles and interviews with top performers like Roy Clark, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Charlie Rich, Olivia Newton-John, Hank Williams and 10O's of others! Record reviews of the latest Country releases. 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