By Dr. Anthony Policastro

I recently attended a virtual conference run by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The keynote talk was by the CEO and president of the AAP. Someone asked him if the AAP had a political position in the upcoming elections.

His response was that the AAP is now and has alway suggested that voters at all levels vote for what is best for children.

That is not a new concept.

The American Academy of Pediatrics celebrated its 90th birthday this year.

When it started in 1930, the founders met with Republican President Herbert Hoover.

Together they created a document titled The Children’s Charter. It was signed by President Hoover signaling his agreement with its 19 principles.

While one may think those were different times, the principles were as true then as they are now.

They included the following “Aims.”

• Spiritual and moral training for all children

• Guarding of children’s personality as the most precious right

• A home with love and security and as close to that as possible for those in foster care

• Good prenatal care

• Well child medical and dental exams as well as public health protection against communicable disease and the right to pure food, milk and water

• Right to physical and mental recreation

• A safe and sanitary dwelling place

• A hazard free school environment

• A hazard free community

• An education to prepare for adulthood

• An education to prepare for parenthood

• Protection from accidents

• For children with handicaps proper training to make them an asset to society

• “For every child who is in conflict with society the right to be dealt with intelligently as society’s charge, not society’s outcast; with the home, the school, the church, the court and the institution when needed, shaped to return him whenever possible to the normal stream of life”(Quoted word for word)

• To grow up with an adequate standard of living and stable income

• Protection against child labor

• Consistency in education whether rural or city

• Support for voluntary youth organizations

• A full time local and national public health program with protection of children as a charge

Little has changed in the intervening 90 years in the necessity to provide our children with these things.

What also hasn’t changed is the summary statement written just above President Hoover’s signature:

“For EVERY child these rights, regardless of race, or color, or situation, wherever he may live under the protection of the American flag.”

Even in those days there was recognition that children who were black or immigrants needed the protection of the United States government.

Over the years, the AAP has focused on these things both professionally and politically.

In 1938 things like measles, diphtheria and whooping cough were among the top ten killers of children.

AAP efforts in immunization laws helped to make them disappear as a significant cause of mortality. AAP efforts at car seat safety laws cut the number of childhood deaths in auto accidents by half.

Current efforts to have laws require parents to keep their weapons locked up away from children also fall in line with that.

So in the end the AAP has always been and will continue to be supportive of the children that it cares for both professionally and politically.