JULY 12, 1947
HYDE PARK, Friday—I had another picnic yesterday, for a second group of little boys from Wiltwyck School with their counsellors and Dr. Cooper, who always brings them and is so wise in directing them.
As I watched them, I kept thinking of a book which I have been looking through, "Unto the Least of These" by Emma Octavia Lundberg. It is a story of the beginning of social services for children, and follows the development down to the present day. Every step of the way are personalities who have made those steps possible. The three to whom the book is dedicated, Julia C. Lathrop, Grace Abbott and Katharine F. Lenroot, have all been chiefs of the United States Children's Bureau.
The establishment of this bureau was a triumph for women. As one looks back over the comparatively short period since its creation, one realizes that great advances have been made, even though there is still much to be done.
The goal, of course, is to give every child the same care and understanding he would have if a wise and loving parent were always by his side. That is hard to accomplish, but I wish we could hang in every home throughout the world a summary of the rights of children:
Every child has a right to care which will insure (1) physical and mental health; (2) normal home life; (3) the largest possible development of his powers through education; (4) moral and religious training; (5) opportunity for wholesome play and companionship; (6) protection from work that interferes with health and schooling.
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Rights and needs are interchangeable words in the foregoing summary. One of the pathetic things I notice about the little boys who come here from Wiltwyck is how susceptible they are to the merest gesture of kindliness. One little boy looked up at me yesterday and said, "I have been here three times. I remember when you read to us about Tiny Tim. Are you going to finish about him today?" He had an almost possessive attitude—offered to run errands and carry around plates of food. And all the time I knew it was just because he wanted to say to the other boys, "I have a little more right here than anyone else because I have been here three times and the family here knows me."
Before the boys left, I had agreed that next Christmas I would take my copy of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" with the abbreviations marked in it, and go over to Wiltwyck to read it to the boys at the beginning of their festivities. The reading of this tale has so long been a ritual in our family that Christmas would not seem the same unless it began with the story of old Scrooge and how he learned about the spirit of Christmas!