Tuesday, June 19

Who will protect the children?

It's been said that one daily edition of the New York Times contains more information than a citizen of the world x hundred years ago would ever learn. (Sorry, I can't remember the number, but you get the idea.) Most of us barely have time to skim the surface of the day's news, whether online, on the radio, on TV, or in a newspaper. But since it's school summer vacation I have way too much time to read the paper.
It's sometimes depressing and sometimes very, very worrying. I understand why we need the sports news and the funnies (one reason for getting your local paper) to enable us to lighten up enough to get through the day. Between reading about the threat of extremist terrorism and pedophile rings, I need Sherman's Lagoon. And of course arts and science news.
But here's something practical for all of us that have anything to do with children. We can vote for legislators and presidential candidates who will supply funds for universal health insurance for U.S. children, and we can watch out what we put into their hands to play with.
See those little guys up there on the piano? Most of them were made in China. It says so right on their little backsides. Today's NYT has a huge story about a recall of Thomas the Tank Engine toys, sold by a company called RC2, which started in trading cards but turned to toys for greater profits. The company's way smaller than Mattel and Hasbro, but it sells toys tied in with very popular brand names -- Thomas, Dora the Explorer, John Deere, and Disney, among others. My little granddaughter loves Dora ("Doh-wa"), and I've sprung for aDora toy once or twice. If those brand names sound safe, all-American, and harmless (outside of the branding implications and, of course, choking hazards), think again. The Thomas toys were found to be coated with lead-based paint. A NYT reporter who went to the factory in China to investigate was detained for several hours by a factory manager who didn't want him asking questions.
The Times mentions the Imperfect Parent online magazine and blog for those who want to keep informed on children's safety, nutrition, and other good stuff, and suggests as well that you sign up for immediate notification of recalls at the website of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the staff of which was cut by more than 10% over the past two years. And I will also recommend that in this time of low governmental priorities for children, we should pay attention to the Children's Defense Fund, which is actively campaigning for health insurance for all of our children.

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