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Campaign Trail Advice: Kiss More Babies

Children's handprints. Photo credit: Deborah Smith.
Children's handprints. Photo credit: Deborah Smith.
May 29, 2012

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Images of candidates kissing babies may be clichés, but a connection to children on the campaign trail is needed - yet missing - according to the nonprofit organization Every Child Matters. Executive director Michael Petit says big business is steering the presidential campaigns with multimillion-dollar attack ads, and the candidates are responding to those, rather than focusing on families.

"It's easy to ignore the needs of children, who don't contribute anything, and it's hard to ignore those who are putting a lot of money on the table."

He acknowledges that the economy, unemployment and health care costs affect parents and kids. However, he notes there has been little discussion of poverty and related concerns, from inadequate child care to substance abuse and child abuse. More than 150,000 Maryland children live in poverty.

One of the group's priorities is legislation (S 1984/HR 3653) that Petit says has gotten little attention so far in Congress. It would convene an expert panel to find ways to curb deaths from child abuse and neglect, which he says are preventable and significantly under-reported.

Every Child Matters has a new traveling exhibit that shows how the U.S. compares with other nations in terms of child welfare. Petit says the U.S. is slipping, although it hasn't always been that way.

"What we're trying to do is show that kids still have these great needs, and when we've made smart choices about investing in our kids, we've all benefited from the results."

He says there have been more child abuse deaths in the United States than casualties in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars since those conflicts began, and more than 80 percent of the abuse victims are under age 4.

Child statistics for Maryland are available at www.everychildmatters.org.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MD