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Protecting Our Children

If you don't speak out, you are partially responsible for risks facing children


By JoAnn Hamilton
May 10, 2006

Silence conveys acceptance.


I have Post Polio Syndrome and can no longer on a regular basis meet with managers of businesses in my area and request covers for magazines that are inappropriate for children. People in my area need to say, "Thanks for the covers," or the magazine covers in stores will not remain because it is inconvenient for store managers to do this.  


You can make requests to managers to place covers over magazines that are inappropriate for children in your area and then thank them for caring about children. You can encourage them to put an employee in charge of the covers so they can be more consistent. If you say nothing, why should the managers bother with this? What you say will improve the standard you now have. If you say nothing, the standard will be lowered. If you are more comfortable writing, send them a short letter.


A recent radio broadcast reported that underage drinking is on the rise across the United States. In the Justice Department report, "How to Use Local Regulatory and Land Use Powers To Prevent Underage Drinking," a main recommendation made is that alcohol not be sold within a certain distance from schools, libraries, churches, parks, etc. Now you can check to see if your city has this ordinance. If the city does not have such an ordinance, you can politely request that this ordinance be established in your city. If you choose to say nothing, then you are partially responsible for the fact that your city does not have this protection. Teenagers who start drinking are susceptible to becoming alcoholics. Call your local city council members and discuss this issue with them.  


Beer advertisements are often placed in highly visible locations in grocery stores. You are more in control of this situation than you realize. Stores depend on your purchases and your opinion matters. You might have the checker call the manager to the cash register where you check out. Tell the manager that there is a nation-wide increase in youthful consumption of alcohol and that studies show that the more a youth sees beer advertised, the more likely he or she is to try it. Ask the manager to consider removing the beer and advertisements from prominent places where youth are sure to see them. Remember, what you say gets listened to seriously if you handle it politely. Then get your friends and neighbors to do the same. Managers will hear you. If you say nothing, store managers assume it doesn't matter to anyone.


Managers and owners would be wise to look at what they are bringing into the community, because of the influence some merchandise has on children. I would suggest that selling poker games and other gambling games for children is not a wise choice. Gambling can easily become addictive, especially when begun as a child. These games might remain in stores until you request they be removed.


Business responds to the public, but businesses need to understand that a lot of things that are tolerated are not accepted. I asked one manager if he wanted his own children to see certain magazines that he was selling. His response was, "My kids will never see those!" I replied, "Yes, but the neighbor kids may have them and then show them to your kids." He saw to it that his entire store chain discontinued the sale of those magazines.


You can make a difference. If you say nothing, you are at least partially responsible for the result. Silence implies consent.  



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