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[Susan notes: The article to which this fine letter responds referred to the extracurricular activities available to children of the rich and children of the poor as "epitomizing the differences in child rearing."

Indeed. And what would those "differences in child rearing" look like if poor people had the money for extracurricular activities?

This is not a rhetorical question. The letter writer is on target in pointing out that children of the poor loom large in our future.]

Published in New York Times

To the editor

Class Divisions Growing Worse, From Cradle On (front page, Dec. 18) identified the benefits for children of wealthy parents. But the impoverished children we treat -- who have been abused and neglected -- suffer from fear of violence and a profound lack of opportunity. The "other world" of soccer games and play dates is sadly unimaginable.

Yet they are part of New York City's future. Our children lose and we all lose if they do not get the mental health and preventive services they desperately need.

Our 194 years of experience demonstrate that evidence-based programs that address complex trauma make a difference. For example, when a student who failed other high schools graduates from Brooklyn Democracy Academy, our special high school, with a Regents diploma and goes to college, her trajectory changes and the door to the middle class -- and soccer games -- opens.

The writer, a former commissioner of the New York City Administration for Children's Services, is chief executive of the Jewish Child Care Association.

Ronald F. Richter

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