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SAMPLE OP EDS FOR CONNECTICUT NEWSPAPERS

Personalize these and send to your local newspapers. Check for your local papers at the CT Press List. Be sure to check submission guidelines of each paper. For more help, go to the Advocacy chapter of Prepare Tomorrow’s Parents’ Guide, which includes working with media, at www.preparetomorrowsparents.org/guide5.pdf, or contact Prepare Tomorrow’s Parents at info@preparetomorrowsparents.org or 561/620-0256.


Connecticut Coalition for Child Development Education
(Submitted by Joan Barbuto; be sure to adapt it before submitting to your local papers)

Prepare Tomorrow's Parents


The Connecticut Coalition for Child Development Education and a national organization, Prepare Tomorrow's Parents (PTP), have launched a campaign in Connecticut to provide education in child development, child safety, the needs of children, and parenting skills to all students in our schools. PTP, a national organization, has designated the month between Mother's Day and Father's Day "Prepare Tomorrow's Parents Month."

The organizations believe it is crucial that all parents know how to nurture their children and to provide in the children's early years what they need to best promote the social, emotional and intellectual development young children need to succeed in school and in life. The only way we can provide this information to all parents and improve the quality of our society is to teach it to tomorrow's parents-the students in school today.

Although there is a lot of talk about universal preschool today, the years of most importance to the formation of a child's character are the birth to four years, when children spend most of their time with their parents The first years of life are the years in which the fundamentals of character are hard-wired into the brain. They are the years in which the child learns to love and to trust if he is able to form a secure attachment to parents or at least one significant adult. Research has shown that this is the basis for a mentally and emotionally healthy personality. Research by psychiatrists have shown that children who do not form this bond (because of neglect, abuse, sickness or depression in the parent, or poor parenting) are apt to develop serious emotional problems and may even become sociopaths. Such children may vandalize, assault other children and family members, harm themselves, set fires, and can even kill others, according to psychiatrist Foster Cline, who has worked with these children for many years. If intervention isn't made before about age 7, he says that most cannot be helped.

When children enter kindergarten, they need to be able to pay attention to the teacher, respect others, have a sense of responsibility, be able to understand and control their emotions, have empathy for other children and know how to interact with them. These skills are just as important as recognizing letters and numbers, spelling their name, and enjoying books. There are good ways of developing these social and emotional skills during a child's first few years, and these can and should be taught to all parents. But few parents take a parenting course, and a survey by a Connecticut psychologist found that only about 8% of students take the elective child development course in our high schools.

Parenting education needs to be part of every school curriculum and needs to reach every young person. We are asking people to write to Commissioner of Education Dr. Mark McQuillan at 165 Capitol Ave., Hartford, CT 06106 mark.mcquillan@ct.gov; and Gov. Jodi Rell at 210 Capitol Ave., Hartford, CT 06106 governor.rell@ct.gov; and ask them to see that this is done.


(Submitted by Joan Barbuto; be sure to adapt it before submitting to your local papers)

Prepare Tomorrow's Parents


Here are a few quotes from news articles over the years which show why education in child development and parenting skills is sorely needed in Connecticut.

Groton: "A 2-year-old girl died early Saturday, less than 48 hours after police say her mother's boyfriend brutally assaulted her because she wouldn't stop crying." (The Day, 5/3/97)

New London: "A sailor stationed at the Groton submarine base has been accused of seriously injuring his 6-month-old son…The child (was) apparently suffering from shaken baby syndrome." The father said he "became upset when his son wouldn't stop crying." (The New Haven Register)

New Haven: "A 2-year-old Shelton Avenue boy remained in stable condition Friday in a hospital burn unit in Boston, a day after suffering second-degree burns over 40 percent of his body from scalding bath water." The mother's boyfriend "told police he placed the tot in the bathtub and left the room for 'a short period of time." (The New Haven Register), 1/11/02)

Hartford: "Frustrated that her infant wouldn't stop crying, a 21-year-old Hartford mother fed her 5-week-old boy a cocktail of formula and a powerful, addictive painkiller"… the boy was rushed to a hospital…"where he was initially listed in critical condition." (The Hartford Courant, 8/22/02)

Incidents like this show that some people, especially young men, are woefully ignorant of how to deal with infants and children and when they can't manage them, they lose control. We need parenting education in our schools, first of all, because it can save children's lives. All our young people need to be taught the basics of infant and child safety, such as never shaking a baby or leaving a young child unattended in a tub.

They need to be taught why an infant cries and the many things they can do to stop a baby from crying. But much more needs to be taught: the responsibilities of parents, the physical, social and emotional needs of infants and children, effective techniques for managing children, physical and emotional abuse-what it is and how to prevent it; and the importance of acknowledging a child's emotions, empathizing with him, and helping him control them.

The Connecticut Coalition for Child Development Education and Prepare Tomorrow's Parents (PTP) are urging Connecticut residents to write to their legislators and state officials between Mother's Day and Father's Day asking that education in child safety and parenting skills be taught to all students in our state. PTP has designated these weeks Prepare Tomorrow's Parents Month.

Parenting is the most important job most of us will do, yet many people get no training for it. The Zero to Three survey of 3,000 parents and prospective parents in 2000 showed that many participants were alarmingly ignorant about childrearing. They had serious misconceptions about discipline and behaviorand unrealistic expectations about what activities children are capable of at various stages of their development. About two-thirds of new parents have not taken any parenting course, and about 40% never even read anything about parenting, according to a 2000 Newsweek poll. The only way we can reach everyone is to teach all our young people child development and parenting skills in school.

Parenting education in schools works, according to research studies summarized in "Preparing Tomorrow's Parents Today" published by The Parenting Project. A University of Iowa study found that without intervention, high school students had relatively little knowledge about child development; boys knew the least and were more apt to choose punishment and abuse to manage children's behavior.

A Michigan State University Study found that students who had taken parenting education classes were more knowledgeable about child development, less likely to believe that infants are spoiled by responsible and affectionate care, more likely to emphasize the importance of talking and reading to children, and less likely to be authoritarian in their parenting practices. And evaluations of children in school-based parenting programs found that they became more empathetic and caring both in school and at home, could relate to their families better, and were more likely to postpone pregnancy until they were older. (You could take out this paragraph if needed for word number limits.)

We need to teach all our young people what they need to provide to their children from birth through the preschool years so they will develop the foundations for loving and trusting, and the social and emotional skills they will need to succeed in school and in life. Ways of developing these skills in their children during their preschool years can be taught and should be taught to all parents. But a survey by a Connecticut psychologist found that only about 8% of students take the elective child development course in our high schools.

Parenting education needs to be part of every school curriculum and needs to reach every young person. We are asking people to write Commissioner of Education Dr. Mark McQuillan at 165 Capitol Ave., Hartford, CT 06106 mark.mcquillan@ct.gov, and Gov. Jodi Rell at 210 Capitol Ave. Hartford, CT 06106 governor.rell@ct.gov, and ask them to see that this is done. Providing good parenting to the next generation of children is just as important as teaching them to read and write.


The Connecticut Coalition for Child Development Education, formerly the Connecticut Coalition for Parenting Education is comprised of approximately 40 people and organizations dedicated to bringing education in child safety, child development and parenting skills to all Connecticut students sometime before they graduate from high school. Members include Yale psychology professor Edward Zigler, who helped launch Head Start, Yale child psychiatrists Kyle Pruett and James Comer, the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, the Mental Health Association of Connecticut; the Connecticut Child Advocate, pediatricians, psychologists, social workers, parents, and other state residents.

Nine years of coalition experience with the legislature and Commissioners of Education indicate the need for a groundswell of public support to bring about action. For more information and to get involved, contact Joan Barbuto, Coordinator of the Coalition, at
joanbstone@aol.com or 203/269-1946.


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