Children need time away from televisionThree cheers for...


February 01, 1997

Children need time away from television

Three cheers for Betsy Garland Wilmerdin's Opinion Commentary column (Jan. 21, "Seeing things"), which pointed out the extent to which television and videos intrude upon the mental space of our children.

I would add that early childhood is not the only time when focusing on a screen confines the mind.

As our children grow, parents and teachers can promote a life of the mind by turning off the TV and thereby creating greater opportunities to read, to converse and to think.

Mitchell Kolkin


Alcohol-related crashes not accidents

I read with great interest your Jan. 16 news article ("Fatal crash on Shore causes nightmares") on the repeat-offender drunken driver who critically injured a mother and killed her two daughters in a Nov. 1 crash on Route 1 in Dorchester County.

I could not help noticing that the reporter referred to the fatal crash as an ''accident'' at least eight times.

As a trauma resuscitation nurse, I am perplexed by the use of the word ''accident'' when referring to drinking and driving. The word perpetuates our society's lax view that drunken driving is an acceptable form of homicide. It's time to get real about drunken driving. It is not an accident. It is a crime -- a violent crime.

Our governor and state legislature must do much more to end the drunken driving nightmare in Maryland.

They should start by setting a more realistic definition of drunken driving by lowering it to 0.08 blood alcohol content.

Second, they should enact legislation to classify death at the hands of a drunken driver as a felony. Today, it is considered only a misdemeanor.

Third, police deserve all the support and resources needed to conduct ongoing highly visible crackdowns to get the message out that impaired driving is an intolerable crime.

Finally, I would like to ask our news media to agree to stop referring to alcohol-related crashes as ''accidents."

Gael Whetstone


Crime article was unsettling

Nathaniel Johnson's Jan. 24 essay, "Lost sheep," was powerful. His stark description of the cold, unfeeling persona of so many of our young criminals and criminals-in-progress is kinesthetically unsettling.

Most of these "children" did not begin life with such emptiness. They began like the rest of us -- by laughing, cooing and trying to please those in whose care they had been placed.

During their early years, the economic, environmental and adult response to this innocence shaped their current behavior.

For these young people the guidelines for punishment of criminals in our penal system won't work -- because this is the kind of treatment that they have known all of their lives. They have learned how to cope with punishment.

This should set off our internal alarm systems and direct us toward other approaches.

Martha McCoy


All state employees deserve pay raise

With all of the major financial projects going on in Maryland and others being proposed by the governor, you would think that he would have included all state employees for a pay raise.

The Maryland State Police are probably deserving of a pay raise and money for cars and additional staff.

But have we forgotten about a pay raise for correctional employees who have to manage and secure the criminals after other law enforcement agencies have completed their tasks?

Although state employees have been granted limited bargaining rights by the governor's executive order, it will be a while before bargaining takes place.

If an agreement is reached, given the mood of the General Assembly because of opposition to the executive order and to state employees' bargaining rights, the budget might be used to deny any negotiated economic benefits.

State employees except for the state police will fall farther behind in their economic standing.

We think the governor should reconsider his decision and propose a pay raise for all state employees.

Their worth and value to the state of Maryland should not be ignored.

`Archer M. Blackwell Sr.


The writer is council representative of Maryland Public Employees Council 67, AFSCME.

Park students don't match stereotypes

I am a junior at Park School, writing in response to the Jan. 25 article, "A real-world lesson in race and poverty." I was shocked to read its portrayal of Park students' day with urban strategist David Rusk, because I believe we were misrepresented.

When some of us said we felt uneasy traveling around the city in buses, it was not because we are rich white kids who feel uncomfortable facing the issues of race and poverty. We were uneasy because we feared we would give this impression, and indeed we were correct in our assumption.

Contrary to what this article implied, we do not all come from rich families who live in Pikesville and avoid going into the city.

While this is partially true for some of our families, we should not be stereotyped because of it.

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