Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

February 07, 2003

Bringing kids to UM hospital was right choice

As the physician who treated the children of Tiffany Simmons, I was astonished at the focus of the articles "Police admit errors in case" (Jan. 31) and "Mother accused of abuse out on bail" (Feb. 1).

Three children were presented to the University of Maryland's Pediatric Emergency Department with clear signs of child neglect. The children had been left alone without food, heat or water. They were unkempt and had ringworm and signs of frostbite.

The police appropriately had these children, who live in West Baltimore, evaluated at the University of Maryland Hospital and contacted the Department of Social Services. They should be lauded for being primarily concerned with the safety of the children.

The concern that the Police Department's child abuse unit was never contacted is akin to saying that the rank and file of law enforcement cannot recognize child neglect and act appropriately in the best interest of the child. And the first matter of business should be to get the children to a safe environment and have their medical conditions treated.

The concern that the children were not brought to Johns Hopkins Hospital, as the city's general orders for victims of child abuse call for, also misses the point. The University of Maryland Pediatric Emergency Department is well equipped to manage victims of neglect and abuse - it has a child protection team and social workers and physicians trained in this field.

I would sincerely hope that as a society we can all work together to meet the needs of children who cannot fend for themselves. This should be our focus - not politics and protocol that ultimately may not benefit the child.

Dr. Richard Lichenstein

Ellicott City

The writer is director of the Pediatric Emergency Department at the University of Maryland Hospital.

Don't blame mother for system's failures

The story of Tiffany Simmons should shame us all ("Jailed mother of 3 is called a `victim,'" Jan. 30).

According to those who knew and tried to help her, this young woman has been struggling to provide for her three children with very little help. And something is very wrong with a country where a young mother can be sent to jail because she is too poor to afford decent housing or child care.

Let's put the blame where it belongs - on a system that fails to provide affordable housing, child care and health insurance for struggling families. And since our national leaders won't tackle these problems, we need to address them on the local level.

A good place to start would be with BGE, which should be required to continue to provide heat and electricity to families with children, the disabled and the elderly who cannot pay their bills.

And we must work harder to provide decent, affordable housing in Baltimore and attract jobs to the region that pay families enough to cover the cost of child care.

Emily Chalmers

Baltimore

Woman's choices put children in peril

I have been reading with interest of the arrest of 23-year-old Tiffany Simmons, accused of the abuse and endangerment of her three children.

It seems her attorney, Baltimore prosecutors and the city police are all blaming each other for mishandling this case ("Police admit errors in case," Jan. 31). But how about the mishandling of the three children?

Perhaps all of this could have been avoided had Ms. Simmons made more sensible choices for her life.

Laraine Fisher

Baltimore

Nominee's `balance' poses real threat

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s nominee to head the Department of the Environment is a former corporate attorney and former midlevel official with the less-than-stellar Michigan Department of Environmental Quality ("Environmental chief nominee promises to `find a balance,'" Feb. 1).

That nominee insists she will "balance" protecting the environment with economic interests.

Interestingly, Mr. Ehrlich's choices for economic and business advisers and appointees do not seem to require this same "balance." None of them is noted for bringing environmental awareness to his or her position. None of them seems to be required to consider the cost to the environment of decisions involving the business community.

If this is our governor's idea of "balance," I fear for every tree, body of water or tract of undeveloped land that stands in the way of his plans for Maryland.

Gary Tosadori

Baltimore

Bush can't give us real reasons for war

While I do not agree entirely with The Sun's editorial "With friends like these" (Jan. 24), its closing questions - "Why war? Why Iraq? Why now?" - are the most salient questions, and they definitely cannot be answered truthfully by the White House. If they were, President Bush's approval ratings would collapse and what little international backing for a war against Iraq does exist would evaporate.

The plain answer to questions one and two is oil. Much of the Bush Cabinet is connected to the oil industry, and Mr. Bush is very anxious to get into Iraq before Russia can take control of its oil.

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