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End door-to-door sales by kids

Utah schools should immediately end the practice of allowing children to go door-to-door to raise funds. It's not safe and in most cases it's not appropriate.

PTA fund raising has come into the spotlight following the slaying of 11-year-old Edward Werner who had been selling candy and holiday gifts door-to-door in New Jersey.The national PTA is appropriately asking state PTA leaders to remind local chapters of its policy, which is to strongly discourage PTAs from using children for any fund-raising activity, particularly door-to-door. Utah's PTA president concurs, feeling no child should be selling anything for schools.

But each school district has its own policy. While some prohibit door-to-door sales, others don't.

A number of Utah's PTA chapters are involved in fund-raising. Children raise money to help buy computers or other equipment that schools may not otherwise be able to purchase.

But putting children at risk even for a worthy cause is not wise. It could be strongly argued that students shouldn't be involved in fund-raising at all, even if it's not door-to-door. The state PTA president claims such involvement is exploitation. Her suggestion that parents find ways other than using their children to raise money for equipment, etc., is a good one.

While many school districts encourage students to sell only to family and friends, not door-to-door, they sabotage their own instructions by offering prizes to the students who sell the most. Peer pressure and the desire to get those prizes tempt children to go outside the family-friends circle and go door-to-door.

That's what led to the tragedy in New Jersey. Friends of Edward Werner said he was consumed with the prospect of winning a set of walkie-talkies by being the top seller in his school's fall fund-raising campaign. As such he spent much of one afternoon going door-to-door. It ended with his death.

It's obvious instructions and pleas to use good judgment are not effective in all cases. While it's a sad commentary on society that there is potential danger going door-to-door to sell candy, coupon books or whatever, it is, none-the-less, true.

Each district should immediately outlaw door-to-door sales and seriously consider removing students from all fund-raising activities.