The popular children's magazine Highlights is receiving praise on Wednesday after issuing powerful condemnation of the Trump administration's family separation policy at the border, with its CEO saying the U.S. government's current behavior is an affront to both "moral courage" and the publication's core belief that "children are the world's most important people."
"Let our children draw strength and inspiration from our collective display of moral courage. They are watching."
—Kent Johnson, Highlights
CEO Kent Johnson demanded that the administration end its forced separation of families and detention of thousands of children in unsafe conditions, calling Trump's policies "unconscionable" and asking readers—regardless of political or partisan affiliation—to call their representatives and demand the same.
"This is a statement about human decency, plain and simple," Johnson wrote. "This is a plea for recognition that these are not simply the children of strangers for whom others are accountable."
At Highlights, our core belief is that children are the world's most important people. In light of the reports of the living conditions of detained children & threats of further deportation & family separation, here is a statement from our CEO Kent Johnson. #KeepFamiliesTogether pic.twitter.com/CNF5LTv4az
— Highlights (@Highlights) June 25, 2019
Highlights, Johnson wrote, has spent its 73-year history publishing content based on the idea that all children have the "inalienable right" to feel safe and be provided with "the opportunity to become their best selves."
"This is a belief about ALL children," he emphasized.
The letter was released amid growing public fury over reports of children in U.S. custody being denied access to necessities like toothbrushes and soap—only compounding the outrage over the Trump administration's indefinite detention of children who have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border after fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries.
On social media, immigrant rights advocates and other observers praised the magazine and thanked Johnson for taking a clear stance on the side of children and against the Trump administration's abuse of young immigrants.
I loved Highlights magazine as a child. Somehow this just seems so important and lovely. https://t.co/eDjHscsNdk
— Sherrilyn Ifill (@Sifill_LDF) June 26, 2019
Even Highlights magazine is speaking out about this. Thank you, Highlights! https://t.co/FNOhZoQUaH
— Janet (@janet444) June 26, 2019
— Seth Masket (@smotus) June 26, 2019
I GREW UP with @highlights! Goofus and Gallant were my start of an understanding about moral, ethical ideas. That there was a choice. That this magazine, for children, is the voice of reason in this catastrophe at the border is fitting and important. #KeepFamiliesTogether https://t.co/akByWYVvkB
— Jamie Lee Curtis (@jamieleecurtis) June 26, 2019
The fact that a children's magazine was driven to the point of pleading with the president to end the detention of children, some noted, underscored the dire circumstances into which Trump has led the nation.
When a 72-year-old, apolitical, children's magazine feels the need to speak out you know we are lost as a country.
— Dr. Valerie Horsley (@ValerieforCT) June 26, 2019
So this is where we are now; HIGHLIGHTS MAGAZINE condemns the action of the Trump administration. Highlights the stalwart publication of dental offices everywhere. The magazine whose most controversial character is Goofus. We have fallen so low. https://t.co/2IlPwKwKA8
— Amanda (@Divamanda23) June 26, 2019
The letter's message was partially meant for young readers themselves, Johnson added, as the magazine prides itself in teaching children to develop such traits as confidence, empathy, and curiosity as well as "moral courage."
"Moral courage means standing up for what we believe is right, honest, and ethical—even when it is hard."
"Let our children draw strength and inspiration from our collective display of moral courage," Johnson wrote. "They are watching."