Smokey Bear, Vince And Larry, Our Families

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When our nation's forests were in trouble, the National Ad Council introduced Smokey Bear. His simple message helped reduce forest fires from charring 32 million acres in 1944 to an average of only 3.7 million today.

When our friends and families were being killed by drunk drivers, the Ad Council made us all aware of our responsibility and ability to make a change. The slogan "Friends don't let friends drive drunk" helped encourage 79 percent of Americans to stop someone who has been drinking from getting behind the wheel.

When the Ad Council introduced Vince and Larry, "The Crash Test Dummies," our eyes were opened to the benefits of wearing seat belts. Safety belt usage jumped from 21 percent in 1985 to 68 percent today.

Now, our nation's families are in trouble. The National Ad Council's Board of Directors voted unanimously to adopt a new long-term initiative dedicated to our nation's children. The goal of the newest campaign is to help parents help their kids so we can all work toward a safe, more nurturing society for our children in the new millennium.

The campaign was recently kicked off using guiding principles from author Stephen R. Covey's book "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families." Mr. Covey, MBA, Ph.D., is the author of numerous best-selling books including "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People." His guidelines offer simple, but effective ways we can be better parents and build better families. You can find a summary of his seven habits in the August 1999 Readers Digest.

We commend the Nation Ad Council's decision to dedicate its efforts to this cause.

In the last three decades, the percentage of families headed by a single parent has more than tripled; the divorce rate has more than doubled; Scholastic Aptitude Test scores among all students has dropped 73 points; and one-fourth of all adolescents contract a sexually transmitted disease before they graduate from high school.

We all worked together to stop the destruction of our nation's forests -- let's do the same to stop the destruction of our families and give our children a bright future.

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