DECEMBER 5, 1945
NEW YORK, Tuesday—Yesterday I attended the luncheon given by the Citizens' Committee on Children of New York City, Inc. This committee is set up to do a coordinating job in the hope of bringing all the agencies which touch a child's life to work together, so that the child can be treated as a whole. The need for concern about our young people is evidenced by some of the items which appear in our daily press and I am quite sure that the same need exists in every city and rural area throughout the nation.
The reports here are that social diseases have been reported to be rising rapidly in the teen-age group—15 to 19 years old. It is safe to say that for one case reported there are three or four cases unreported. Also in our police line-up, the papers tell us that there is an increase in the teenage group of young criminals. All of this indicates the need for social planning on every level in our community.
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The committee on children will concentrate, I think, on the problem of child care centers and Miss Bond who spoke for New York State yesterday announced that the Governor would back a continuance of the state appropriation for these centers and had the promise of the leaders of both parties in the Legislature that they would cooperate in the coming legislative sessions. Governor Dewey deserves the thanks of the citizens of New York for this action and I hope that many governors throughout the country are doing the same.
The Federal Government which at one time, under the Lanham Act, was able to give some support to child care centers, cannot now continue this assistance. I am told, however, that 28 percent of the women now working have been found to be heads of families, and 77 percent of the husbands of the women who are still at work, earn less than $41.00 a week. It is easy to understand, if they have several children, that what they earn is necessary to make it possible to live in a decent house, to have sufficient food and proper clothing.
I think there are few women with little children who would not prefer to stay at home. But if they are the only breadwinners in the family and are not subsidized by the government sufficiently well so they can stay at home, they have no alternative. The same is true if the breadwinner does not earn enough to support a family. This is one reason why full employment at adequate wages is important to the community as a whole.
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During the last few days I have been bombarded by a series of postcards from Chicago which seem to be inspired. The writers insist that every evil in the country is due to the manufacture and consumption of liquor. They all seem to forget that once we tried the experiment of legislating virtue through prohibition with very little success, and that we have now gone back to the longer, but perhaps more successful, effort of trying to make our homes and our schools and perhaps our communities produce young people with character enough to control themselves and live with moderation.
A very beautiful woman who came to see me yesterday afternoon announced that she was 85 years old and that she laid her looks and her ability to keep active to her moderation in living.