Celebrating graduation is risky businessTo parents of the...

Letters

May 16, 1999

Celebrating graduation is risky business

To parents of the Class of '99:

Congratulations. Your child has arrived at one of those special milestones that you may remember from your own life, high school graduation. If your memories are joyous, I am sure you anticipate the same for your graduate.

While celebrating, it is also our responsibility as adults to discuss the need for care and caution. What has changed a great deal since your graduation is the amount of risk involved for our young people.

Carroll County public school students have been taught the best choice regarding drinking and premarital sex is abstinence. The message is conveyed through required programs in health, family life and human development, and AIDS education. Students have also been subject to strong disciplinary policies and administrative procedures regrading the abuse of alcohol and other drugs. We know from past experiences, however, that without thought of consequences, alcohol and other drugs are used as a major part of the celebration that takes place during "Senior Week."

Alcohol lowers inhibitions, impairs judgment and harms coordination skills.

Regardless of the encouragement by advertising and other media to the contrary, use of alcohol and other drugs heightens the chance for car crashes, other physical damage, high-risk sexual behaviors and legal problems.

As the parent of a graduating senior this year, please be aware that your child may be exposed to potentially risky situations. Talk with your child about how he or she will appropriately handle these occasions without compromising themselves or others.

If your children will be celebrating in Ocean City without you, check out the place where they will be staying by contacting the owner or landlord. Develop a plan with your children to stay in touch with you during the week, and remind them of their responsibility regarding the care of the rental property.

Be clear about your expectations. Many resources are available to your family if your child is with other young friends in Ocean City. The "Play It Safe" booklet that will be distributed in the senior packets contains important emergency information as well as coupons and ideas for fun things to do.

Note that the Ocean City police have formed a partnership with motel and hotel operators to reduce the availability of alcohol to minors, and reduce underage drinking. The Parent Network is a program of community volunteers in Ocean City who are interested in the safety of youth while visiting the resort. You may call this network 24 hours a day at 410-723-3700 or e-mail help@atbeach.net if you have concerns about your child or need other information.

Again, congratulations. You, too, have achieved a milestone with this graduation. I hope this information helps you and your graduate make it a healthy and safe one for all of us.

Joanne M. Hayes

Westminster

The writer is substance abuse prevention coordinator for Carroll County Public Schools.

Taxpayers shouldn't fund refugee benefits

I am outraged that the 20,000 refugees from Kosovar will be eligible for Supplemental Security Income payments if they are age 65 or older, blind or disabled. Further, if they meet this criteria, they are eligible for food stamps and, of most significance, free Medicaid.

This is unfair and should be stopped immediately.

My father, who worked and paid taxes all his life was recently put in a nursing home because of failing mental and physical health. Before Medicaid will assist, his meager lifetime savings will have to be depleted to $2,500.

In essence, taxpayers are required to meet strict guidelines before the government provides any assistance. Yet, because of their "qualified alien status," the refugees are eligible for these government "services" merely because they are refugees and being funded by taxpayers.

Further, a family of four who earns $25,000 per year must pay $300 a month for health insurance premiums and must do without the necessities of life to afford this premium. Yet the refugees, who never paid the American government 1 red cent are entitled to all these privileges.

An alternative approach to fund the refugee situation could be from donations from the public and other charitable organizations. The American people, including myself, are sympathetic to the refugee cause, but the burden of helping these people should not be on taxpayers. The American government should take care of its own before extending its generosity, and our tax dollars, to others.

In addition, the United States is the chief contributor of the NATO forces and the additional $6 billion the president is requesting Congress to appropriate from Social Security trust fund surpluses is more than enough. Of course we should help victims but not with Social Security surpluses.

Joseph A. Giordano

Finksburg

Trying to describe an elephant

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