Blame the parents

April 12, 2010

Your editorial, "Invisible lives" (April 11), is a perfect example of the circular logic that further dooms the unfortunate children you want to help. The article describes the various abnormal, frightened and selfish behaviors of characters in the Lamont Davis trial and very properly identifies those as self-defeating, self-inflicted wounds.

In my opinion you go off track when you express frustration that "most Americans refuse to take any responsibility for" the actions of this "frustrated and despairing underclass."

As you observed, fear and intimidation are certainly the root cause for the unreliable behavior of the witnesses, and you conclude "they have good reason to be afraid. Every public institution they've ever encountered has failed them — the schools, the welfare agencies, the state's broken juvenile justice system." And then, as if an afterthought you mention "For most, it appears, not even their parents were willing to show up with them in court."

Referring back to your earlier point about Americans refusing to take responsibility for the situation, stop and think about responsibility. It is a very personal trait. It starts with the individual, not the groups that you are trying now to blame. For example, it is the responsibility of the parents to guide their children to do the right thing and tell the truth in court. Yes, the parents, who you almost forgot to mention, as you bashed a long list of public welfare and government agencies. The collective responsibility of "Americans" will never be the convenient substitute you seek for an individual's responsibility and that of the parent of a minor child. This uncomfortable and everlasting truth will continue to confront our society, and it is the individual's responsibility that matters first and foremost. Until individuals take personal responsibility for meaningful change, our "underclass," as you call them, will continue to drift downward, and additional generations will be lost.

Mark Leuba, Ellicott City

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