Letters To The Editor


August 21, 2006

Protecting children is DHR's top priority

Protecting children from abuse and neglect is the highest priority for the Maryland Department of Human Resources and its local departments of social services.

In so doing, the department relies on the training and judgment of our child protective services and legal staff to negotiate difficult family and legal situations and works with many partners including the judiciary, the state's attorney's offices, law enforcement, the community and others to ensure the protection of children.

The Sun's editorial "Inexcusable" (Aug. 17) referenced a case that was the result of many decisions and actions made at the various stages of legal proceedings.

The outcome has created understandable concern in the community. Although we believe that all parties were acting in good faith, the outcome of those decisions was clearly unacceptable.

The department is reviewing the case to determine how those decisions contributed to this result, and determine what policy changes are necessary to ensure similar situations do not occur in the future.

We hope and expect that our partners are undertaking similar reviews of their roles in this matter, and we are committed to working with them to improve our system and to ensure the safety of children.

Christopher J. McCabe


The writer is secretary of Maryland's, Department of Human Resources.

High birth rates put our planet in peril

For those concerned about rampant population growth, Susan Reimer's column about Hispanic teen pregnancy didn't go nearly far enough ("Latinas miss message on birth control," Aug. 13).

But the fact that a "young Latina is more likely to live in poverty, drop out of school, get pregnant as an unmarried teenager, succumb to drug use and attempt suicide than any other demographic group" is not just an individual tragedy.

It is also a societal tragedy since it strains our health and welfare resources, and contributes to our burgeoning population which, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, just passed 300 million and is projected to reach 400 million by 2043.

Ms. Reimer urges "sensitivity" in addressing the Hispanic teen pregnancy problem because the Hispanic community places "high social value on children and on being a mother."

She does not mention, however, that such cultural traditions also place high social value on having large families. And in today's world such families tax our planet's resources to the limit because of exploding populations and profligate consumption.

High birth rates today -- and Hispanic birth rates are among the highest -- are a prescription for global disaster, and any traditions that encourage them should be vigorously challenged so that we no longer reinforce behaviors that are not only destructive of individual lives, but threaten the very planet upon which we depend.

Howard Bluth


Immigration issues leave Latinas at risk

As a Baltimorean who has watched the blossoming Hispanic community in Fells Point, I find it alarming that it may harbor our next underclass. And how sad it is that Hispanic girls are falling into the trap of unwed pregnancy and poverty ("Latinas miss message on birth control," Aug. 13).

But what Susan Reimer fails to mention in her demographic survey of the issue is the role illegal immigration plays.

Any largely underground society lacking access to basic tools cannot succeed.

When you couple the underground status of many Hispanics, with the semi-criminal aspect of undocumented residency and employment, it's no wonder that so many Latinas are victimized.

Rosalind Ellis


Shabby standards abuse city children

In an effort to boost the graduation and passing rates of a totally inept city school system, the grading standards will be lowered ("Mayor defends grading change," Aug. 16). So once again the children of Baltimore will come out on the short end of the stick.

The mayor, school board, teachers, and administrators will praise the new graduation rates and take credit.

But when will we learn that passing students who cannot read or do simple math is not helping them in today's world.

This is a form of child abuse.

Until the system decides to teach students who want to learn and toss out those who don't, this city and country are in big trouble.

Terry Mandelberg


Lead-level progress deserves applause

Like many Baltimore residents concerned about the welfare of city children, I was pleased to read that city health commissioner Dr. Joshua Sharfstein is taking action to ban the sale of jewelry found to contain unacceptably high levels of lead ("City plans to ban tainted jewelry," Aug. 15).

According to the Maryland Department of the Environment's "Childhood Blood Lead Surveillance Annual Report for 2005," the city reduced the number of children with 20 or more micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood by 52 percent between 2004 and 2005.

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