Library board is no place for political favors As a...

LETTERS

March 18, 2001

Library board is no place for political favors

As a county resident, I am disgusted by the legislation members of the Carroll County delegation to Annapolis have proposed regarding appointments to the Carroll County Library Board.

Carroll County faces innumerable problems, including crime, school violence and over crowding, drugs, infrastructure inadequacy, the lack of public transportation and environmental issues, to name just a few.

These issues seem more important than ensuring a seat on the library board for a small group of people who only want to force their vision of acceptability on the general public.

According to The Sun's account, citizens were "appalled" at the interfilling system, which, as acknowledged by the library, was an experiment to make room for children's fiction books and resources ("Library officials oppose change," March 14).

According to some people, this policy exposed their children to books that contained "explicit sex, nudity and graphic violence and crime."

It strikes me as ironic that some citizens who were so "appalled" that their children were exposed to "graphic violence and crime" seem relatively unfazed by the fact that the GOP in Carroll County is holding a gun raffle.

The library has functioned successfully without the invasion of political appointments.

The bill the General Assembly is considering would insure the appointment of individuals who wish to influence the board with their personal viewpoint. It opens the library to patronage and political "thank yous."

If our delegates from Carroll County cannot find anything more important to advance, maybe the voters should elect legislators who represent larger constituencies.

Sedonia M. Martin

Manchester

Paying kids to snitch sends wrong messages

Westminster High School administrators paying student snitches for ratting on others is another example of the assault on reason in the "war on crime" ("A high price for doing what's right," March 12).

By their actions, the administrators teach our children that:

The government will buy information that should be communicated for free, such as information regarding legitimate issues of public safety;

Students should consider their personal gain when our culture, social mores and competing values -- such as respect for parental authority and discipline -- would otherwise dissuade a person from reporting minor transgressions to law enforcement.

Whatever else children may learn about alcohol, drugs, and even violence, I would teach that personal responsibility to do the right thing -- whatever that may be in a given circumstance -- is never for sale to the highest bidder.

I would teach them that doing the right thing is its own reward -- and that they can then wake up and look in the mirror, instead of over their shoulder.

Clarke F. Ahlers

Columbia

County is taking steps to prevent violence

Reading about the school shootings that occurred in Santee, Calif., my heart was saddened by the tragic loss of young lives. And, as often happens with remote incident, community members in Maryland began to reflect and question what preparations, if any, we have to provide for the safety of our children.

I therefore felt it necessary to offer the following information about what is being done in Carroll County.

In January 1999, the Carroll County Public Schools enacted the "Serious Threats of Violence Policy." Under this policy, any child who makes a verbal or written threat and has the means to carry it out is not tolerated.

Our county is also involved in a collaborative effort that includes the Carroll County Public Schools and the Carroll County Youth Service Bureau. This program is financially supported by grants from the Local Management Board and the Core Service Agency.

Under this program, the principal of an elementary, middle or high school can request an assessment if a child makes a violent threat. Assessment of the potential for violence is provided by a specialist employed by the Youth Service Bureau. The child and family complete an evaluation with the specialist.

This specialist provides written documentation to the school system and to the parents of the child. Included in this assessment are the risk factors for the potential for violence and recommendations for treatment. If the situation warrants, further action will be taken.

The Violence Tips Hotline (410-386-2045) was also enacted in 1999. It gives a child or an adult caller an anonymous way to alert someone to a potential danger.

Targeted school violence is rarely impulsive -- before most incidents most attackers told someone about their his plans, most attackers had previously used guns or had access to them and in many cases other students were involved in some capacity.

More than two-thirds of the attackers had experienced severe, longstanding bullying and harassment and most attackers had previously engaged in behavior that caused others concern or indicated a need for help.

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