Kids should receive treatment long before they get in...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

September 18, 2000

Kids should receive treatment long before they get in trouble

The Sun's article "A mother's fight to help her child" (Sept. 2) again highlighted the shortcomings of the Department of Juvenile Justice in the area of mental health.

While the mother and son profiled are in an unfortunate situation, their predicament illuminates some of the broader problems with health care in this state.

Did the child suddenly develop mental illness when arrested? Probably not.

So why does his only recent psychological assessment seem to be the one conducted by juvenile justice? Why didn't he receive mental health care in the community?

Maybe the mother has an employer-based insurance plan that doesn't cover psychological services. Or perhaps the family is on Medicaid, and that program hadn't informed them that the teen-ager is entitled to such care under the law.

Or, like 40 million other Americans, maybe the mother and son simply have no health insurance.

Either way, a sick child should not have to get arrested before he can begin the process of assessment and treatment.

It is a tragic commentary on the priorities of this state that our disorganized correctional system has become the primary mental health provider for so many low-income individuals.

If Maryland invested more energy and resources in providing mental health services to all children in need, then perhaps fewer youths would have the misfortune of ever encountering the juvenile justice system.

Patra Tate

Baltimore

We must teach children that they have better choices

Just when I was beginning to think that I was living in a surreal world, Gregory Kane's column "Addressing black teens' ills carries big burden" (Sept. 9) jolted me back to reality.

The writer was "'buked, scorned, reviled" for the same theories that I have held for a long time.

But, as a white person, I feared making them known lest I be labeled a racist.

It doesn't take much to see that for many dispirited black youths, trying to work things out together in a diverse society is but the ideal of dream-spinners of a forgotten era.

However, I cannot believe that anyone would seriously propose a return to "separate but equal."

What can we do?

Shall we continue to whine, to throw more money at failing schools and to attach blame to hapless teachers who are working against ridiculous odds?

All the money and power in Baltimore cannot get the job done. Overhauling attitudes cannot be bought.

If only each one of us could convince just one young man that he counts, that a diploma will get him further than his gang will, that there is a fulfilling place for him in this crazy world and that his life will not be snuffed out in the city's next drive-by shooting.

But maybe I'm still living in my surreal world.

Margaret M. Walsh

Baltimore

Gov. Bush would choose judges who protect us

While reading the Sept. 12 Sun, I came across the best reason to vote for Texas Gov. George W. Bush: our personal safety ("Next president gets to reshape judiciary," Sept. 12).

Everyone, Democrat and Republican alike, has been touched by the constant stories about hardened criminals being released early or sent out on bail, then committing violent crimes.

These situations can be blamed on the too-liberal judges that flood our so-called justice system.

Many of those judges have been appointed by the present White House. If Al Gore becomes president, we are guaranteed more of the same.

A Republican in the White House will do wonders, if he is allowed to appoint judges who actually think of the past and present victims, instead of thinking of the criminal as the victim.

Rob Mandelberg

Owings Mils

The American Revolution didn't begin in Concord

I enjoyed reading Joel McCord's Sun Journal article detailing the deterioration of and restoration plans for the Orchard House in Concord, Mass. ("Worn shrine to `Little Women,'" Sept. 8).

The house is a part of our literary and national history that is truly worth restoring.

However, I must correct a historical error in the article concerning the start of the American Revolution.

It is true that the "shot heard 'round the world," as memorialized in Ralph Waldo Emerson's famous poem, was fired in Concord. But the town where the American Revolution began was not Concord, as the article stated, but in next-door Lexington.

It was there the first shots of the revolution were actually fired early in the morning of April 19, 1775, before the British marched to the Old North Bridge in Concord.

Unfortunately, Lexington did not have a favorite-son poet of Emerson's stature to immortalize its battle; thus this error appears frequently in print.

Christopher E. Maddox

White Hall

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