Column One: Parents

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The St. Louis office of Parents for Public Schools, a Jackson, Miss.-based citizens' group, last week distributed its first copies of a "Parental Involvement Pledge'' to local schools.

The pledge--which asks parents to spend at least 15 minutes a day helping their children with homework and a minimum of five hours a semester volunteering in schools--is part of the group's national campaign to organize support for school reform. (See Education Week, Sept. 8, 1993.)

After circulating the pledge among parents and school officials in the St. Louis area, the group plans to distribute it in Kansas City, Mo., and eventually in all 11 states where chapters of Parents for Public Schools are located.

Kevin Walker, the director of the group's Midwest office, said the 4,000-member organization also plans to set up a national data bank with the names of all of the parents who sign the pledge.

"We'll try to track these parents over a number of years, to see if they're happy with their involvement,'' Mr. Walker said.

The group's campaign is being financed with contributions from individuals and from such national corporations as McDonnell Douglas and A.G. Edwards.

Four out of 10 parents say they were abused emotionally, physically, or sexually as children, often by family members, according to a survey released last week by KidsPeace, also known as the National Center for Kids in Crisis.

About 45 percent of the parents who say they were abused were the victims of physical or emotional abuse by family members, the survey found. Only 4 percent, most of them women, say they were sexually abused by a member of their family.

About 25 percent of the parents said they knew children who had been sexually abused by an adult, and 15 percent said one of their own children had been sexually abused.

The survey of 1,056 parents illustrates the scope and nature of child abuse, said Mark Stubis, the group's communications director.

In response to the findings, KidsPeace is founding the Lee Salk Center, named after the renowned child psychologist, author, and child-welfare advocate who died last year.

The new center is expected to "examine all of the problems facing American families,'' Mr. Stubis said.

The organization is also planning to launch a national media campaign designed to raise public awareness of abuse.

Copies of the survey are available for $14.50 each from KidsPeace, 5300 KidsPeace Dr., Orefield, Pa., 18069.--J.R.

Vol. 13, Issue 08

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