Letters To The Editor


October 01, 2002

Child abuse should always be reported

The Rev. William Au complains that Maryland law requires persons with knowledge of child abuse to report it to the local Department of Social Services or a local law enforcement agency, even if the victim is now an adult seeking counseling from a priest or psychotherapist ("State law impedes abuse victims' healing," Opinion * Commentary, Sept. 16).

Father Au speculates that this report, which initiates a confidential investigation, will do "severe harm" to recovering adults. His view is ill-founded. To the contrary, the failure to report is much more likely to result in severe harm.

Victims of child abuse suffer tremendous guilt and loss of self-esteem. Reporting by the third person may well help the victim realize that he or she was not at fault and has nothing to be ashamed of.

But helping that particular survivor, while critically important, is only a part of the function the law serves.

Recent history confirms that where there is one victim there are likely to be others. The investigation prompted by the required report is undertaken to protect other children who may be victims of abuse by the person who abused the adult survivor. If abuse is found, the abuser may be removed from a situation where he or she has the opportunity to victimize children in the future.

The reporting requirement is essential to fulfilling our responsibility to our children. As it stands, priests are the only ones who enjoy an exception to the law -- for statements made in confession.

Rather than weakening the reporting law, as Father Au implores us to do, we must strengthen it. To give the reporting law some force, we must provide appropriate penalties for all who fail to report the abuse of children.

Lynn McLain


The writer is a professor of law at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

Listing the accused is unfair to priests

I agree that any priest who molests a child should be punished under the law; however, I do not agree with the Archdiocese of Baltimore's decision to release the names of priests accused of molesting a child ("Priests upset by release of abuse list," Sept. 26).

Some of the priests mentioned in this list have never formally been accused, investigated or notified of being accused of molestation.

Cardinal William H. Keeler does not have the right to sacrifice priests to try to get the Catholic Church out of the horrendous mess it is in.

As a Catholic woman, I am appalled and I hope the innocent men sue the church for defamation of character.

Kathy Creager


Appalled by salary of CareFirst CEO

I am appalled at the grossly excessive levels of compensation for the executives of CareFirst ("CareFirst CEO got 34% raise last year," Sept. 20).

Under its charter, CareFirst enjoys tax advantages in return for providing reasonably priced health insurance to the public. And there should be no doubt that more responsible executive and board compensation could result in better control over rising health insurance premiums.

Lee Starkey


As a dues-paying member of BlueCross BlueShield, I was fascinated by The Sun's article section about CEO William L. Jews' $1,300-an-hour income.

What if he has to work overtime? Does he get time-and-a-half -- which would be almost $2,000 an hour?

I hate to think that he would not be adequately compensated. After all, he's struggling along on $2.7 million a year.

George Fondersmith


State needs ideas and fiscal restraint

There's something terribly wrong with a system that projects a state budget shortfall of $1.7 billion, as opposed to the approximately $1.1 billion deficit projected just weeks earlier ("Townsend ensnared in budget Catch-22," Sept. 23).

There's something even more wrong about the spending spree in Annapolis that caused these dire forecasts.

If there was ever a time for change and new ideas and a return to fiscal responsibility in Maryland, that time is now.

W. J. Valis


New tests stress individual feedback

As a parent, I am encouraged by the shorter, more streamlined exam that will replace the MSPAP test and enable comparisons of our students' scores with those of students from across the country ("State unveils testing reforms," Sept. 19).

Providing individual test scores places more emphasis on children and less on "experts" far from the classrooms.

Walter Hayes


Educators' jargon muddies message

The culprit in educationese is jargon, not technical or complex language ("Simpler education blueprint sought," Sept. 16).

The purpose of using jargon, in any field, is to make the message obscure. For instance, if legal documents were "laymanized," we would not need lawyers to interpret for us.

Nothing beats clarity in effective communication, oral and written. Yet, afraid of sounding simplistic, some educators refuse to write in plain English. But what good is a document no one can understand? And shouldn't teachers and school administrators set the standard for clear writing?

Joy C. Naden


War plans distract public's attention

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