Helping ChildrenA conscious decision by qualified child...


August 19, 1992

Helping Children

A conscious decision by qualified child sexual abuse investigators should not, and need not, result in a decision such as that by Judge Cornelius F. Sybert Jr. of Howard County. Professionals who know how and when to make an interviewing decision do not need their efforts thwarted by questionable legal interpretations.

Joint investigations by social workers and police have led to significant increases in cases that result in prosecuting offenders.

The model used by the Child Advocacy Center has proven its effectiveness in Baltimore County since its beginnings in 1989. Other jurisdictions, such as Howard and Anne Arundel counties, are now using similar models that benefit child victims.

Time and research have proven that joint interviewing is preferred as a means of intervention in sexual abuse cases. However, trained and informed professionals -- which should include the judiciary -- know this is not feasible in all cases because of the condition of the child at the time of assessment.

This does not mean that alternative interviewing techniques are not used by investigators as a way of getting the best possible results, which does imply the truth.

The presence of a social worker, whether in the room or observing via a one-way mirror, always indicates the beginnings of therapeutic recovery from the crime of sexual abuse.

This is one of the principal roles social workers have always played in the long and difficult recovery of children and their families from the crisis of sexual abuse.

Social workers, police and state's attorneys are not seeking unfair advantage in order to gain prosecution of sexual offenders. We are seeking, on behalf of child victims, a way to allow their voices to be heard so that they can be protected by any reasonable and legal means possible.

Carl Smith


The writer is supervisor of the Baltimore County Child Advocacy Center.

Trauma Fight

Your characterization of the situation at Maryland Shock Trauma as a "feud," July 30 and 31, is very misleading. What is taking place is a life-and-death struggle to maintain the very existence of Shock Trauma.

The doctors who were fired are trying to preserve the autonomy of the unit. Its founder, Dr. R Adams Cowley, understood that as soon as Shock Trauma is swallowed up by University Hospital, people will die.

The innocent victim mangled by a drunk driver, the construction worker whose scaffold collapses, the bystander who catches a bullet meant for a drug dealer and many others will no longer be assured that the life-saving treatment they need will be there. The reason is that the beds that are now reserved for severe trauma patients will be filled with patients who do not really need them.

When a state trooper informed me Dec. 8, 1983, that my husband had been flown to Shock Trauma after a drunk driver slammed into him, the only consolation I had was that John was in the only place that could possibly save him.

Fortunately for John, Dr. Ameen Ramzy was on duty at Shock Trauma that night. He literally brought John back to life. After months of treatment, John came home and eventually returned to his job as a high school guidance counselor.

Thousands of people like my husband are alive today because of the dedicated efforts of Dr. Cowley to bring Shock Trauma into existence. Drs. Ramzy, Dunham and Belzberg are trying to keep it intact.

It is not a feud that they are involved in; it is a continuation of the full-scale battle for survival of the unit that doctors at Shock Trauma have been engaged in since its inception.

The people of Maryland cannot afford to lose this invaluable, life-saving resource.

Carol A. Stachura


Real Distortions

Speaking of "distorted campaign perceptions," there seems to be at least one in every paragraph of Douglas B. Hermann's letter in The Sun of July 27.

Albert Gore was not the first to raise the racially charged specter of Willie Horton; it was the Republicans. (The Sun's columnist Roger Simon made this same mistake.)

Rightly or wrongly, Senator Gore criticized Michael Dukakis for Massachusetts' prison furlough policy. The senator did not mention Willie Horton by name. Mr. Hermann's attempt to equate Gov. Bill Clinton's justifiable criticism of Sister Souljah's rap lyrics with this typical Republican playing of the "race card" is nothing short of bizarre.

Democrats do not "go nuts," as Mr. Hermann claims, when Republicans mention God or biblical references in their speeches. (Witness Jimmy Carter's effective use of these during his presidency).

What we object to is the Republicans' attempts to pre-empt the deity for their own partisan uses, or to use the government to enforce their own beliefs on the rest of us. In his rebuke to Oliver North for the latter's holier-than-thou posture at the 1987 Iran-Contra hearings, Sen. George Mitchell said, "Although He is often asked to do so, God does not take sides in political disputes."

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