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Utah’s first lady meets Meathead for kids

SHARE Utah’s first lady meets Meathead for kids

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Jacalyn Leavitt hung out with Meathead Monday.

OK. So it has been a long time since Rob Reiner played Archie Bunker's son-in-law in "All in the Family." No liberal cause was too great for the whiney character on the 1970s television series. But the 53-year-old actor and director has his own real cause these days: children.

Reiner met with first ladies attending the National Governors' Conference to discuss programs to prepare youngsters cognitively, socially and emotionally for school. Governors' wives are promoting several child and parent initiatives, including literacy, character education and smoking cessation for pregnant women, a project Leavitt recently launched in Utah.

Reiner, co-founder of the I Am Your Child Foundation, spent the morning in private meetings with governors' wives. Leavitt and others also visited Schlow Memorial Library in downtown State College to read to kids.

"I would submit there is nothing more important than our youngest children," said Reiner, who serves as chairman of the California Child and Family Commission.

Reiner became involved in children's issues six years ago because he was "sick and tired" of youth violence. And more specifically, as the offenders being portrayed as "polite choir boys."

"I said, 'There's something missing here,' " Reiner said.

Children who have involved parents, he said, don't turn to violence. "The single best way to fight crime is early intervention programs," he said. Reiner favors family resources programs that integrate parent awareness, quality child care and health care.

Reiner also said Hollywood "definitely exacerbates" the youth-violence problem. But he said children who are brought up properly don't turn bad from watching violent images on the screen. The entertainment industry, he said, has perhaps a greater responsibility to monitor how it portray cigarette, drug and alcohol use in movies.

Seeing Julia Roberts or Brad Pitt smoke "definitely has an affect on children," Reiner said. "That's an advertisement to start smoking. There's no way around it."

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