Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 23, 2004

Twins' tragedy another failure in child welfare

The death of the twins Emonney and Emunnea Broadway is another tragedy that reflects the weakness of the Maryland Department of Human Resources' system that is supposed to prevent the abuse of children ("Twins slipped through gap in city services," May 18). How many more tragedies do we have to read about before we realize the system needs overhauling?

Excuses are no longer acceptable. Yes, there are cracks in the system and they should fixed. But when will someone take responsibility to say we have made a mistake, then do something positive about it?

The Department of Human Resources continues to deal with child abuse and out-of-home placement cases the same way it has for decades. It does the same thing, the same way, all the time, hoping for different results. That is social suicide.

The buck should stop at the desks of DHR Secretary Christopher J. McCabe and Floyd R. Blair, interim director of the Baltimore Department of Social Services, right now.

We can afford no more mistakes in the handling of abuse cases involving Maryland's most vulnerable children. They can't speak for themselves; DHR does.

The Rev. Steward H. Frazier Jr.

Ellicott City

The writer is a member of Howard County's Citizen Review Board for Children.

The dismissive response by Sue Fitzsimmons, spokeswoman for the Baltimore Department of Social Services, regarding her agency's failure to intervene prior to the alleged murders of two newborn infants sounds alarmingly like the alibis we heard from the top down after the revelations of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

"In an ideal world," Ms. Fitzsimmons said, one of her department's representatives "would show up at the hospital" and "make sure they get medical care" ("Report on abuse got no response," May 19).

But it's too late to pass the buck. For the agency to have ignored a 4-month-old report by experts urging reforms that could have prevented these tragedies (which were almost predictable, given the mother's history of child abuse) is unconscionable.

In an ideal world, all babies would be born into loving homes and grow up to be loving parents. In the real world, when abused runaways deliver unwanted babies, the Department of Social Services is expected to be there for them.

It's time for a regime change.

Dorothy Harrison

Frederick

Don't blame state for family's errors

I'm having a problem understanding The Sun's articles about the deaths of Sierra Swann's twin children, and the blame being put on the procedures of the Baltimore Department of Social Services ("Generations born in despair," May 19).

I hate to sound sarcastic, but in what year did the Maryland legislature declare Social Services responsible for raising our children? Have the family members and friends of Ms. Swann ever hear of the word parents? Where were her mom and dad when their minor daughter was having sex with her boyfriend (who is now a 24-year-old adult)?

Better yet, where were Mom and Dad when Ms. Swann's first child was born, when Ms. Swann was a 15-year-old minor?

Oh, that's right: Mom was a crack addict and Dad wasn't around.

You can't blame Social Services or any other government agency for this tragedy; it all starts with the parents.

Mark Tharle

Baltimore

Prevent child abuse by blocking births

My heart ached when I read of the beating death of the twin babies by their teenage mother and her live-in boyfriend ("Report on abuse got no response," May 19). I cannot imagine the suffering that these babies experienced.

What interests and impresses me are the many words written regarding what Johns Hopkins Hospital and the city Department of Social Services should have done to prevent the brutal deaths of these poor children, when actually, equal and more merciful consideration should have been given to preventing their birth in the first place.

Jeanne Keighley

Parkville

There would be no need for "Generations bred in despair" (May 19) if we had a law that required compulsory sterilization for both the mother and father after one illegitimate birth.

Elaine Rosenbloom

Baltimore

Razing of Odorite offends community

While Smarty Jones was winning a blanket of black-eyed Susans for his stellar showing at the Preakness last weekend, University of Baltimore President Robert L. Bogomolny was earning an unsightly black eye for his obdurate attitude in regard to retaining and reusing the historic Odorite Building ("Protester pays last respects at Odorite site," May 16).

Instead of razing the landmark structure, Mr. Bogomolny could have made it the jewel of his campus by adopting the plans of a Washington, D.C., architectural firm that incorporated the former 1915 automobile showroom in a new, distinctive student union.

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