The narrow view expressed by William Raspberry in his article "A Year for Exploiting Children," (op-ed, June 22) is alarming in light of the facts on the impact of the observance of the Year of the Child in America at the grass-roots level. Mr. Raspberry has focused on extremes to the complete exclusion of a middle group that strives for progress, not perfection, in meeting the needs of our children; a group that understands that, if we cannot achieve utopian circumstances for our young people, we must, nevertheless, work to change conditions, attitudes and policies that adversely affect them.
Can 400 national organizations committed to heightening their members' level of awareness of the special concerns of our children be misguided? Can the governors of 51 of our states and territories be faulted for poor judgment for actively supporting the commission in creating a national dialogue on the needs of all our children? Can Marion Barry, the mayor of the District of Columbia, be so naive as to appoint a special task force to reduce the high infant-mortality rate in the nation's capital if that were not a goal that could be accomplished successfully? Can the presentation of hard facts on the condition of our children - at home and abroad - be considered an empty and "silly" gesture?
We think not. Changes are taking place in this country today that are the direct result of the efforts of the U.S. National Commission on the Year of the Child and cooperating organizations. Children - now and in years to come - will benefit greatly from these changes. The sole purpose of the Year of the Child in America is to foster the well-being of our children, knowing that if we cannot eradicate the problems of the young, we can, at least, reduce them.
Model legislation has been introduced in more than 17 states requiring child restraint, automobile safety devices. In Delaware, the governor has obligated $1 million for new children's programs, much of which will assist foster children. In Kentucky, each county has developed a special child health care plan that has been introduced jointly by the state's chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Department of Human Resources for a "health home" in which around-the-clock health care will be available to every child in the state.
In spite of Mr. Raspberry's contention that the country at large is "scarcely aware that the IYC is going on," the Year of the Child has earned significant coverage in the media since President Carter created the commission. More than 16,000 press clips document the interest of the press in plans, projects, activities and events which will improve conditions for children long after the Year of the Child is over. Your readers would have been better served had Mr. Raspberry revieweed this material and discussed it with commission members and commission staff toward an objective presentation of the facts.