Eleanor and Children

"It is when you set standards for youngsters and do not live up to them yourself that the youngsters begin to question the validity of the standards." -Eleanor Roosevelt, "My Day," July 27, 1956


Though Eleanor was raised during a time when children were still being treated as smaller and less useful adults, her view of children is very progressive. Hillary Clinton summarizes her opinion on children's rights saying “we know that children should be treated with extra care, not less, that every child should be viewed as being endowed with rights and dignity accorded to all human beings" (http://www.org/HRClecture.html). The amount of value she put on children's opinions can be seen in her willingness to answer their pleas. In once case, a African American first grader wrote to Eleanor saying that his house was sliding down a hill due to rain. His parents, a Laundromat employee and a mechanic, could not afford to fix this problem. Eleanor responded to this by going to Kentucky and meeting with the heads of the realty association. She was able to stabilize the child's house and eventually her actions led to integrated housing in Lexington. Another time, an African American Boy wrote to her about trying to get a drink from the wrong water fountain. He was beaten up in the process. He sent her the cup he used to get the drink and she kept the cup as a reminder of how much she still had to do to help children (http://www.ervk.org/HRClecture.html).

The value she put on children's requests and her interest in children's rights created an example for the nation. As a powerful person who could have chosen not to listen to anyone else's opinions, the fact that Eleanor listened to the opinions of children, helped to prove their worth. It is unquestionable that in the last century there have been many advancements to help the plight of children. Some of these advancements, such as the Child Labor Amendment which she campaigned for and the inception of the United Nations International Children's Fund are directly linked to Eleanor. Eleanor also worked at the Todhunter school in New York where she taught children who were victims of the depression and couldn't afford much education. Others, such as the change in attitude towards children can be indirectly linked to her since her policies regarding children opened the minds of many.


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