Young victim Rita Fisher should be a call to action for...

SATURDAY MAILBOX

May 09, 1998

Young victim Rita Fisher should be a call to action for all

Every time I see the battered and bruised sad face of Rita Fisher, I think of all the adults who failed her in life.

From her mother to the social workers assigned her family's case, the people who were entrusted to protect her let her down.

Even more sickening is the fact that thousands of children suffer similar pain -- although they manage to live through it -- and often continue the cycle of violence.

I hope Rita Fisher becomes a symbol to adults who are abusing children, mentally or physically, to get help for their problem; a symbol to neighbors, friends and acquaintances who think they may be witnessing abuse to report it to authorities; and a symbol to teachers and social workers to take necessary action to help stop the abuse.

If you think abuse -- or in the case of Rita Fisher, torture -- is happening to your child or a child you know, look at a picture of Rita Fisher's face. Then do something about it.

If we won't protect our innocent children, who will?

Jeff Jirkovsky

Catonsville

I was shocked and outraged to read the comments from social worker Tear Plater, in the April 30 article "Safety net' let little Rita Fisher fall to her death." My purpose was not to protect Rita from abuse," she was quoted as saying.

What is her purpose as a county social worker in the Child Protective Services Division?

Is it to investigate the calls made, write reports and go on to the next case?

Why weren't questions asked when bruises began to appear on the child's face, when meetings were held outside of the home with Rita Fisher's mother, Mary Utley, and when tales of padlocks on refrigerator doors were discussed?

I hope any social worker in Baltimore County with an attitude similar to Tear Plater's leaves and goes to work somewhere else, where compassion and understanding are not requirements.

Lynne Beck

Baltimore

Regarding Dan Rodricks' May 4 column, "'Men of the house': a legacy of abusers," if we really want to reduce child abuse, we have to accept the costs.

Money is one cost; loss of privacy is the other. We have to spend more money for social workers to cept that possibility? Yes, I am, if it will save even one Rita Fisher from such a horrible fate.

I challenge my fellow citizens to accept the possible loss of some "privacy" to save children's lives. As for the monetary cost, I'd rather pay now to keep children from growing up into maladjusted, anti-social adults who are likely to land in prison, than pay later to keep them in prison.

Robert Bly is right. These "half-adult" victims of child abuse are becoming far too numerous in our society. Drastic action is needed to reverse this trend before our society disintegrates.

Elizabeth Fixsen

Savage

Considering the tragic circumstances of the Rita Fisher case, The Sun in its editorial ("The Rita Fisher verdict," April 30) and in Dan Rodricks' column ("We can't get off cheaply in protecting our children," May 1) gave reasoned views of the difficulties that social workers in Child Protective Services face daily in trying to protect children from abuse.

The articles showed the difficulty of proving the abuse, the lack of cooperation from parents and other involved agencies, the insanely heavy caseloads and the stress of making life-and-death decisions under the mandates of family preservation.

In contrast, Michael Olesker's column ("Rita's killers disgrace the human race," April 30) concerning social services' responsibility, include such comments as "something laughably called Child Protective Services," and "how dare they call themselves Protective Services" was vindictive and presented a false picture.

Child Protective Services works daily with families very similar to Rita Fisher's and prevents these cases from reaching a tragic end.

Mr. Olesker's comments were a disservice to a group of profes- sionals working under difficult and trying conditions.

Fred Davis

Pasadena

I felt I had to respond to the May 4 letter by Betty Smith. "Photographs of bruised girl didn't belong in the newspaper."

Although it was very painful to see the photographs and read about the cruel and wrongful death suffered by Rita Fisher, I commend The Sun for the courage to cover this case as accurately as possible. I hope that the amount of news coverage about this case will be a wake-up call.

We must insist that the welfare of children be our first priority. We must get involved in the lives of children and speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.

It is necessary to have people see the evil in the world. In order to combat evil, we need to look it in the eye and not blink.

Lena L. Harrington

Baltimore

None of us can read the headlines about the death of Rita Fisher without being affected.

In the days after the verdict of this trial, it is important that we don't forget Rita Fisher. We all have something to learn from her tragic death.

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