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A new attitude is what's needed to keep kids safe

I applaud The Sun's effort to shed some light on a troubling issue ("Warnings of abuse, yet the system fails a child," Jan. 25). However, while individual tragic cases are important to review (and make for great headlines), I think that to honor our children, The Sun (and, I hope, Maryland's legislative bodies) must review the child protection system on a grander scale.

We need to look at ourselves and our beliefs. Our community prefers to be reactive rather than proactive when it comes to civil matters. Our legal system favors family preservation and parents' rights over child safety.

Child advocates (including Department of Social Services employees) have been crying out for help with this broken system, pleading for relief from the hiring freeze, all but predicting the disasters like this one if the child welfare system continued not to be a priority.

Until there are changes in our attitude toward keeping children safe, we should not be so much surprised when children die as surprised it doesn't happen more often.

Frances Williams-Crawford


The writer is a clinical social worker.

Laws on teen-agers show no consistency

The Sun's editorial "A penalty too harsh" (Jan. 28) states, "Teens don't possess the maturity or intellectual capacity to comprehend the consequences of their actions. Scientific studies show that to be the case: Areas of the brain that control impulse, reasoning, and judgment don't fully mature until our 20s."

If that is true, why can teen-agers drop out of school at age 16, why is the voting age 18, and why do we allow teen-agers to have an abortion without the consent or even the knowledge of their parents?

Is it because we no longer care that laws are based on right and wrong or consistency, but only on expediency?

Wayne Smith

Glen Burnie

Boosting marriage adds to wealth, health

Regarding Susan Reimer's column "Just saying no to subsidy for marriage" (Jan. 27), I think that President Bush has done his homework better than Ms. Reimer has.

It's well-known that single mothers and their children make up the majority of those below the poverty line. Recent studies also show that married people are healthier, happier and live longer than their unmarried peers.

And as Ms. Reimer herself points out, children from stable two-parent homes are have many advantages: They are more well-adjusted emotionally, do better in school, and are less likely to get involved in drugs and crime.

It seems to me that promoting marriage not only helps the poor economically, but helps everyone in other, just-as-important ways.

Aiding marriage is one of the best things we can do for individuals and our country.

Jeanette Amestoy Flood


Other threats dwarf gay marriage issue

When spouses stop cheating on each other, divorce rates start plummeting and celebrities are no longer annulling their "five-minute marriages," perhaps conservatives will have a little more ground to stand on when opposing gay marriage ("Gay marriage ban a tough political vehicle for Bush," Jan. 25).

But as things stand now, the arguments against gay marriage are pretty shaky.

In a world where true threats such as murder, poverty and terrorism hang over our heads, how can we justify telling people who they should or should not love?

Angie Engles


Put drug deception on the front page

Not everyone reads the editorials, but even people who do not read the paper see the headlines on the front page. So I suggest that The Sun take the information in the editorial "To the highest bidder" (Jan. 27) and put it on the front page.

There The Sun might also inform your readers that the prescription drug benefit added to Medicare "specifically prohibits the government from negotiating discounts on drug prices" and that the Medicare drug law eliminated a provision that would have allowed Americans to import cheaper drugs from Canada.

During this election year, Americans should be shouting in the streets about how the Republicans and the Bush presidency have bowed to the drug companies and their deep pockets while harming the citizens of the United States, who pay more for drugs than anyone else in the world.

Sylvia Tulkoff


Why Republicans should love Dean

I don't understand why Republicans find Howard Dean so scary ("Can Dean recover?," Opinion

Commentary, Jules Witcover, Jan 23). The ultraconservative Manchester Union Leader said in an editorial that it is afraid of "how he might react to a foreign diplomat or head of state who publicly challenges him."

Yes, just imagine. Dr. Dean may become so angry he might do something really drastic, such as making unsubstantiated claims that the offending foreign head of state has weapons of mass destruction.

His rage could lead him to invade the nation despite impassioned opposition from our shocked allies. And in a frenzy, he might taunt and deride our former friends when they refuse to support the war.

Worse still, Dr. Dean could get so out of control that even after defeating the nation in war, and capturing its vanquished head of state in a dirty hole, he would continue to risk American lives by remaining in the foreign nation so his buddies can exploit its resources.

Instead of being afraid of Dr. Dean, Republicans should love this guy.

Joe Otterbein

Shrewsbury, Pa.

Should lawyers alone do more to help poor?

As an attorney, The Sun's headline "Md. lawyers fall short in free help for poor" (Jan. 24) attracted my attention.

I await The Sun's article on the poor receiving free medical services from doctors and dentists, free food from supermarkets, free rent from apartment developers, etc.

Harris James George


Keen eye for change in the city's fabric

Antero Pietila has an anthropologist's eye for tell-tale signs ("A city tradition is drying up," Jan. 26). Historically, he observed, Baltimore's vitality (not to mention diversity) has been reflected in the prevalence of neighborhood bars.

A reference to my old haunt, "a stretch of West Baltimore Street, between Freemont and Fulton avenues, that was populated with war workers who moved here from the Appalachians," jarred some early '60s memories.

Along a once-thriving couple of blocks, from Calhoun to Gilmor streets, I hawked newspapers to patrons of nine different honky-tonks, each with a jukebox blaring country-and-western tunes. In those days, there were three city dailies, with the News-American and The Evening Sun publishing multiple editions.

Alas, only one tavern remains on that depopulated patch of Baltimore Street - and, I might add, only one daily newspaper.

Gregory Lewis


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