Kids, charges of abuse, and fairnessRe: Editorial in The...

LETTERS

March 09, 1997

Kids, charges of abuse, and fairness

Re: Editorial in The Sun in Carroll, Feb. 21, "Privacy of staff vs. children's rights."

The discussion of privacy vs. parents' rights has missed one very important consideration: our children. I spoke at the Board of Education meeting on Feb. 12 after months of dialogue with the Carroll County Public Schools attempting to get answers to my questions about the issue of notifying parents when a child is the victim of suspected misconduct by a staff member.

I question the validity of an investigation where only one party involved is interviewed, only its side of the story is obtained and further investigation is not done; where there is no need to contact parents; no reason to even question whether the child needs support or guidance; not even allowing the parent that privilege. The "incident," if it is not criminal misconduct, can remain a secret between the student, the staff member and the school under current guidelines.

Several key words are at the heart of the controversy. We have suggested that parents be notified if their child has been in a situation in which there appears to have been inappropriate staff conduct. We have asked that parents be notified if the incident is referred to an outside agency for investigation, such as Protective Services, State Police or CASA. We have not asked the schools to investigate, only notify. We have not asked that the name of the staff member be disclosed; privacy may be maintained.

If there is inappropriate staff/student conduct which prompts referral to an outside agency, we believe it to be serious enough that the parent needs to be notified so they may provide guidance and support to the child. In a case of suspected child abuse by a staff member, the incident will be referred to an outside agency, the agency will attempt to interview the child and the parent will be the last to know.

The reason we were given for not notifying parents before children are interviewed is that parents may advise the child not to speak with the investigator.

I have a problem being prejudged that way. Also, if the outside agency determines there has not been misconduct (meaning criminal misconduct), parents may never be notified. It appears the schools believe parents to be very unreasonable, irrational human beings, not even to be dealt with. This certainly does not indicate a trust system.

When students have been subjected to false accusations and gossip, they deserve an apology. When guidelines allow children to remain in situations that are potentially unsafe to their mental or physical well-being, the schools need to be pro-active, not reactive in their policy revisions. When principals fail to carry out their responsibilities, disciplinary guidelines need to be enforced.

Pat Ellis

Eldersburg

What's black, white and needs kids?

I am a seventh-grader from Mount Airy Middle School. Kids should be able to have more to do with the newspaper. Their feelings and thoughts are just as important as news reporters'.

People want kids to be able to write and participate in the newspaper production. This will give them a chance to get to know a little more about the country and its facts.

Kids should be able to put games and other activities into the newspaper because kids cannot understand the original crossword puzzles and word searches. This will provide more money to your company. It also will teach kids games are better than television or electronic games.

You and your company probably would like more money. Well, you can get that money by letting kids deliver your newspaper. This way, more people will buy it because of children helping. Kids will also be off the streets. You should let kids participate; it will give the kids a chance to speak out.

Not many adults listen to what children have to say, so this will give them a chance and will also let you make even more money than you have been. Thank you for your time and I hope you take this letter into consideration.

rika Hunsinger

Sykesville

Extra meetings are not small change, Yates says

I once read where a man claimed that if his brain stopped working that he would like to have a transplant. He specifically wanted the brain of an editor. He felt that he wanted a brain that had never been used before.

I read the comments of editors of both local papers, and I am starting to think that that man was probably correct. I was dismayed that both jumped on Commissioner Donald I. Dell and myself for asking that the extra meetings of the planning and zoning commission be canceled in order to save taxpayers money.

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