Breakdown of family real key to violence
The subtitle to Sunday's editorial regarding juvenile homicides noted that "officials need to recognize that this isn't just a policing problem" ("Death at an early age," Jan. 4). However, our society, as well as The Baltimore Sun, needs to recognize the primary source of the problem - the breakdown of the family.
While I recognize the importance of government programs in the fight against violence in our urban, poor communities, many of those same well-intentioned programs have, over the last five decades, played a deadly role in undermining intact families among the poor.
There was a time when out-of-wedlock births in our poorest communities were still the exception and not the rule.
Pressure was applied by community members on those who fathered children to be "dads" rather than simply biological fathers. The lessons those fathers imparted to their children, day in and day out, were the best preventive medicine to the lure of gangs and illegal activities and the temptation to drop out of school.
The editorial never mentioned the breakdown of the family structure and the role it plays in the violence infecting the young men in our poor communities.
But the solution to the problem will never come from another government program.
More than anything, what we need to see is righteous outrage well up from our churches, community leaders, politicians and the members of intact families who have the courage to demand that our young men take responsibility for the children they father.
That could be the most powerful weapon in the fight against the deadly violence the editorial rightly decries.
Stephen Roscher, Owings Mills
The writer is an assistant state's attorney for Baltimore County.
Stories of abuse send a message to enablers
As a survivor of childhood clergy sexual abuse, I want to thank The Baltimore Sun for the article "Ex-pastor of St. Leo's abused boy in '70s, parish told" (Dec. 30).
I was abused in the 1970s, as was my older brother, by a priest in Kansas City. My brother took his own life as a result of his abuse at age 14. The priest responsible for his abuse was not defrocked for another 17 years.
But the question that comes to my mind is why being defrocked is often considered a just punishment for such a criminal act.
I hope there will be stiffer penalties in the near future for the molesters and those who enable and cover up for them.
Publishing such stories empowers victims to come forth and sends a message to the church that people will not tolerate such behavior.
Kevin Higgins, Rockville
Antagonizing world leaves us less safe
The writer of the letter "Anti-Bush vitriol shows no respect" (Jan. 4) says that we should give President George W. Bush "credit for keeping us safe after the 9/11 terrorist attacks."
However, respect has to be earned. And I feel far less safe now that Mr. Bush's antagonistic attitude and actions have made the people of many nations, even some of our friends, angry at the United States.
Harry Bennett, Baltimore
When Hamas disarms, civilians will be safe
Amid continued terror in the Middle East, I am writing to support Israel's right to defend itself and ensure the safety of its citizens by seeking an end to Hamas' daily attacks on Israel, including Baltimore's sister city of Ashkelon ("Israeli military drives deeper into Gaza," Jan. 6).
One cannot compare Hamas' targeting of civilians through mortars, rocket fire and suicide bombers to the Israeli government's defense of its citizens from continued terrorist attacks.
When Hamas ceases its attacks, civilians throughout Israel and Gaza will, I hope, again live in safety.
For years, Israel has sought reconciliation with the Palestinian people on the basis of two states living side by side in peace and security.
On the other hand, Hamas remains openly dedicated to Israel's destruction and has brought nothing but pain and suffering to the people of Gaza.
The Greater Baltimore Jewish community stands in solidarity with the people of Israel.
We also pray for the innocent victims in Gaza of Hamas' indifference to the fate of its own people.
Jon M. Laria, Baltimore
The writer is president of the Baltimore Jewish Council.