Good morning. Tomorrow millions of Americans will reach out to their fathers in thanks. I believe being a father is the most important job a man can do. Today I want to talk to you about what our nation can do to help fathers as they try to raise good children.
A good, strong father can make the difference between a lifetime of disappointment and anger, and a lifetime of fulfillment and good parenting in turn. Children from single-parent families are twice as likely to drop out of high school, to have a child before they are 20, to live in poverty. Children who don’t have a dad at home are more likely to do worse in school than those who do, regardless of their household income.
Yet in so many ways being a father today is harder than it was when our own dads were young. Most fathers are working longer hours to help support their families. At the same time, as many women move into the workplace, many, many American fathers find themselves taking on even greater responsibilities at home.
So if we want to keep the American family strong in the 21st century, we have to support American fathers in doing their best by their children. That’s why we worked hard to pass the Family and Medical Leave law, to cut taxes for our hardest pressed working families, while we are fighting to raise the minimum wage to make it easier for parents to pay for their children’s college education; why we are fighting to protect the Medicaid that helps working parents with children with disabilities to keep working and support their children.
In addition to supporting fathers, we should expect basic responsibilities from them. That’s why we worked so hard to strengthen child support enforcement. And I am proud that child support collections are up by 40% in the last three years.
We are also urging fathers to get more involved along with mothers in their children’s education. In fact, this summer Education Secretary Dick Riley is enlisting fathers and mothers to keep reading to their children, and reading with their children through vacation. While math and science scores have gone up in recent years, our reading scores have remained just about flat, and reading ability drops off when children are out of school.
Secretary Riley’s Read Right Now initiative will encourage one million children to keep reading, even after the school doors are close. Fathers can help build a lifetime of memories for themselves and their children by reading with them every day. I know on this Father’s Day all those books that I read with Chelsea together are among my most precious memories.
We also have to help parents protect their children from bad influences that come from outside the home. American parents are working overtime to keep their home safe, to set good examples, only to have popular culture make their hard work even harder. That’s why we worked hard to give parents the “V“ chip, so they can keep excessive violence and other inappropriate material out of their young children’s TV viewing, and why we’ve encouraged the entertainment industry to rate their TV programs; it’s why we are supporting anti-drug strategies to help parents keep their children drug-free.
Parents also know that aside from television and drugs, alcohol and tobacco are two of the biggest dangers to our children. Our administration is working hard, along with tens of thousands of citizens, including so many young people in anti-smoking groups, to keep our children away from tobacco. Every day 3,000 kids start to smoke in this country illegally, and 1,000 of them will have their lives shortened as a result. Our administration has proposed strong rules to prevent the advertising, marketing and sales of tobacco to children.
Now some political leaders who oppose our efforts to restrict advertising and sales to children are saying that cigarettes are not necessarily addictive, even going so far as to compare the dangers of kids smoking to the dangers of some children drinking milk. Well, that certainly is the tobacco company line. But it was the Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Koop under President Reagan, who concluded nearly a decade ago that cigarettes are addictive - highly addictive. In fact, next week 130 of the nation’s top doctors and scientists are meeting to discuss how people can break free from tobacco addiction, not whether it is addictive.
现在，有些反对我们限制向儿童作广告和销售烟草的政治领导人说，香烟并不一定使人上瘾，他们甚至别有用心地将孩子吸烟的危险比作有些孩子喝牛奶的危险。那当然是烟草公司的说法。但香烟可以导致上瘾（ 高度成瘾）的结论是近10年以前里根总统手下的外科主任C. Everett Koop博士得出的结论。事实上，下个星期将有130名全国的闻名的大夫和科学家开会讨论怎样使人们摆脱烟瘾的问题，而不是它是否能使人上瘾。
So when political leaders bow to the tobacco company line, say cigarettes are not necessarily addictive, and oppose our efforts to keep tobacco away from our children, they continue to cater to powerful interests, but they are not standing up for parents and children. In fact, they are making the job of being a parent even harder.
So on the eve of this Father’s Day I say to the tobacco industry: Support our efforts to keep tobacco away from our kids. And I say to others in public life: Stop fighting those efforts. You should be supporting them too.
One thing parents haven’t had to worry about is their kids being exposed on television and radio to liquor advertisements. For half a century liquor companies have voluntarily kept their ads off the air for the simple reason that it was the right thing to do. So I was disappointed this week when a major company announced it would break the ban and put liquor ads on TV, exposing our children to liquor before they know how to handle it or can legally do so.
After voluntarily staying away from this for 50 years, being good corporate citizens, companies are now considering changing plans. I ask companies to get back to the ban. Pull those ads. We appreciate your good corporate citizenship, and our parents need it to continue.
Let’s all resolve to make the job of being a father easier. Tomorrow we celebrate our fathers who every day without fanfare or recognition are doing the hard work it takes to be good fathers, good husbands, good citizens of our country. To all of you I say, thank you, God bless you, happy Father’s Day, and thanks for listening.
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