Sullivan takes cheap approach to child-abuse issue HHS plans high-profile initiative, no funding. BTC

April 17, 1991|By Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration intends to call attention to the tragedy of child abuse and neglect through a series of high-profile events, but it will not propose funding any new programs to combat the problem, according to a draft of the planned initiative.

Louis W. Sullivan, secretary of health and human services, "wishes to make the issue of child abuse and neglect a very high priority of his tenure," states the initiative, expected to be unveiled by the White House later this month. A copy of the draft was obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

He will do so through speeches, appearances and meetings, and by attempting to influence activity at the state and local levels and by the private sector, according to the document.

"He plans to highlight the child abuse issue in a number of high-visibility appearances during the coming year," the draft says. "These include discussion of the issue in speeches and visits to child abuse prevention and treatment programs in cities where he is scheduled to make appearances."

But the initiative does not propose any new resources or programs to address what a federal report issued in June called "a national emergency."

Rep. Patricia Schroeder, D-Colo., who chairs the House Select Committee on Children, Youth and Families, said she had not seen the administration initiative, but said that more resources were needed.

"They say the right words, but words don't provide any real comfort to a child who is being abused," Schroeder said.

"Talk doesn't cure it," she said. "You need a multidisciplinary approach, and that isn't cheap."

In a related development yesterday, an advocacy group said there were more than 2.5 million reports of child abuse and more than 1,200 abuse-related fatalities in 1990, a 31 percent increase since 1985 and a 38 percent increase in fatalities during the same period.

The statistics showed that 39 out of every 1,000 American children were reported for maltreatment last year, while at least three children died every day from abuse.

The figures are based on an annual telephone survey of child welfare officials in the 50 states by the Chicago-based National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse.

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