Last week we went to the circus. The problem with going to circus, besides all the usual pitfalls of going anywhere with a 3 year old, is the gauntlet of PETA protesters that line the sidewalks outside the arena. They hold posters and shove flyers at people and yell at everyone. It was particularly absurd for them to be there the day we went since it was the school matinee and they were essentially yelling at little kids. Super.
It’s no secret that I’m not a big fan of PETA because I think they’re way more about marketing themselves and not enough about solutions to the problems they discuss. I’m especially scoff-ful of their “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” campaign because I think it harnesses lot of the attention-getting properties that naked celebrities can engender for a cause that is pretty far down on my personal priority list. Would I cry if the mink-coat industry disappeared forever? No. Would I strip, or ask someone better looking and more interesting than me to strip, to hasten its demise? Not a chance. If anyone is going to get naked in an attempt to get others to reach for their wallets, I think it should be to help humans.
In pondering what charity out there I think is worthy of the level of hysteria that PETA brings to its activities, the one that popped immediately to my mind is the Children’s Defense Fund. Even the name sounds worthy and dignified. Who doesn’t want to defend children?
The CDF is nothing short of amazing. Founded in 1973 by Marian Wright Edleman, who worked with Martin Luther King Jr. on the Civil Rights movement and was the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi bar, CDF seeks to improve national priorities and policies for children. The CDF operates educational, social, and spiritual support programs for kids all over the country and also conducts some of the most effective advocacy campaigns for child welfare programs in US history. Head Start, the State Children’s Health insurance Program, education access for children with disabilities, placing new minimum standards for child care, provisions for the welfare of children in the foster care system, providing vaccines for low-income children, CDF was there to help make all of it happen.
In addition, CDF operates programs that provide summer and after-school enrichment for children, leadership programs for youth, faith-based programs to encourage congregations to provide for children, and programs to prevent adolescent pregnancy. Most amazing to me is the Cradle to Prison Pipeline project. In language that is unambiguous, CDF addresses the problem of 1 in 3 African-American males serving prison time in their lifetimes by putting supports in place to prevent the cycle of incarceration from beginning.
No one at CDF is asking anyone to get naked or stand on corners yelling at kids as they walk into a circus or any of the other stunts that PETA pulls regularly. Instead they work very, very hard doing legitimate research, operating nation-wide programs that directly serve children, and advocating for laws that provide a safety net for kids in America. That’s why I’ll be supporting CDF with a financial donation this month. If you would like to do the same, you can go here to do so.