Child welfare system is failing nationwide
Like so many other cases facing the U.S. child welfare system, the death of 7-year-old Nixzmary Brown, who was beaten to death by her stepfather in New York, is a tragedy ("Experts fear `foster-care panic,'" Jan. 29).
This tragedy raises two key issues. First, why should some of the child protective services workers who handled the case be suspended when they did the best job they could with the resources they were given?
It is well-documented that child protective services workers are overburdened by high caseloads, which makes it difficult to thoroughly investigate all reported cases of abuse and neglect. If society is to hold social workers accountable for failing children, should we not also hold elected officials accountable for failing to adequately fund child protective services?
And while the Nixzmary Brown case highlights the failures in child protective services, that is only one component of the child welfare system. And, unfortunately, it is not the only part that is broken. The entire child welfare system is fractured, and this includes foster care and the family preservation and adoption programs.
The child welfare system is broken not only in New York but around the country.
More than 30 lawsuits have been filed across the United States against state or local governments.
These lawsuits were filed because children who had been brought to the attention of authorities or placed in foster care or adoptive homes were further abused, neglected or sometimes killed.
This is alarming. And if we are to ensure that there are no more cases like Nixzmary's, citizens must first acknowledge that we have a crisis in the U.S. child welfare system.
Until we do so, more innocent children are likely to be harmed.
Lorenda A. Naylor
The writer is a professor in the School of Public Affairs at the University of Baltimore and a former social worker.
Discriminatory bill deserved to die
Kudos to the state House Judiciary Committee for voting down the Marriage Protection Act ("Marriage measure rejected," Feb. 3).
This bill was written by legislators who wish to do an end-run around the courts by inserting their discriminatory views on homosexuality directly into the state constitution.
Many supporters of the bill claim that their views are based on deeply held religious beliefs. They arrived in Annapolis by the busload to pack the hearing room.
They gave impassioned testimony, asking the committee to allow the public to vote on an amendment to Maryland's constitution, one that would have disallowed same-sex civil marriage, or anything approximating it, in the Free State, now and forevermore.
Thankfully, the bill was killed in committee Thursday as legislators recognized that civil marriage is a civil right for all Marylanders. They were not swayed by the large number of those on the right who based their case on religious arguments. They appreciate the fact that the civil rights of a minority are not well served when they are left to the whims and prejudices of the majority.
Del. Donald H. Dwyer Jr. and his supporters have every right to their beliefs. However, their right to have such beliefs enacted into law ends where my civil rights begin.
Marriage is always a moral institution
Defining marriage is not an issue for the courts to decide simply because marriage is not a right. It is not guaranteed explicitly or implicitly anywhere in our Constitution that I can recall ("Anti-gay union bill lights up hearing," Feb. 1).
Marriage is a moral issue, and morality is not founded on a vacuum.
Morality discriminates between right and wrong.
Video poker offers freedom, pleasure
Imagine an activity that people engage in of their own free will, for pure pleasure, without bothering or harming anyone else and without government support or interference.
But because it is gambling without government regulation, The Sun calls video poker machines the "Worst of both worlds" (editorial, Jan. 31).
I call it "near nirvana."
Owner of poodle is solely to blame
The only person to blame in the poodle vs. jogger controversy is the owner of the dog ("Poodle vs. jogger gets plenty of hackles up," Feb. 1).
Had she had her dog leashed and under control, as is required by law, there would have been no incident.
If a dog, any dog, is nipping at me and I've tried to shoo the dog away, my next instinctive response is to kick the dog away. And if, after the first kick, the dog comes back, yes, I'd kick it again.
Who would stand there and let a dog bite them?
Perhaps the anger poodle owner Janice Tippett has is really anger at herself for not having her pet under control.
But how much easier it is to blame someone else.
Force jogger used entirely excessive