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Friday's letters: Hillsborough agency working to keep kids safe

Deaths of 8 kids put agency in jeopardy | Oct. 9

Agency working to keep kids safe

One child's death is one too many. Each of these eight children was full of promise and deserved to grow up loved and cherished by family and friends. Thank you for opening a community discussion about the complicated needs of children in the system of care.

Hillsborough Kids Inc. does not work in a vacuum. We are part of an intricate web of agencies and individuals who all share the same mission: keeping kids safe and working our hardest to bring their best interests into every decision we make.

Twelve years ago, Hillsborough Kids was created for this community by this community. Concerned citizens spent two years designing a system they thought would work better than government-run programs — and it has by most every measure.

But leadership in child welfare is twofold: constant innovation and day-to-day management. Hillsborough Kids has led the state in developing innovative programs that help children in our care not just survive, but thrive. In response to valid criticisms of operational oversight, we are implementing sweeping changes in the way we train, supervise and oversee our front-line workers so that the critical thinking skills they need become second nature.

We need our community's continued support. Mentor or foster a child. Start a program at your house of worship to help struggling families. Look around your neighborhood and see who needs you. When we invest time and attention in our children's welfare, everyone benefits.

Mindy Murphy, board chairman, Hillsborough Kids Inc., Tampa

Deaths of 8 kids put agency in jeopardy Oct. 9

Reaching parents is critical

How can one help but be moved by the picture of the beautiful children who have died because an adult who was supposed to love, care and protect them did not? As a founding board member of Hillsborough Kids Inc., I have been part of the evolution of the agency charged with protecting children who are being abused and neglected.

Each situation is different. There are often signals that, in a perfect world, should alert case managers that all is not well in a particular home. This is what HKI and its contracted care management agencies do. But human behavior is unpredictable. Stress can cause violent reactions. Child abuse is passed down. If one is not lovingly parented, one does not know how to love a child.

Reaching parents early, especially if they are fragile, young and unprepared, is critical. Community-based care is about a community that cares about its children and provides, as much as possible, services and supports that protect them.

Hillsborough Kids cannot do this alone. Get involved. Know your neighbors. Reach out to struggling parents. Know when to suggest help to them. Call the abuse hot line if you suspect abuse. It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a community to protect its children.

Liz Kennedy, Tampa

Security tightens after rape at school | Oct. 6

Improve school safety

As a Chamberlain High School alumna, I was upset to hear about the recent rape and extremely disappointed by the school's and the school district's reactions.

The district quashed the idea of a buddy system because it would pull students out of class, but if students aren't safe at Chamberlain, having people miss a few minutes of class time to accompany someone to the restroom is the least of school's problems. No one learns much while worrying about being attacked in the hall. If the district really thinks that students' class time is so inviolate, they'll have to come up with another concrete way to protect students' health and lives.

Restricting hall passes, while the most immediately obvious way to keep students under supervision, does nothing to prevent students from staying in the halls by skipping class entirely.

Kathryn Dorn, Tampa

Misplaced priorities

Two front-page stories pointed up a contrast I find horrifying.

At a high school, a student is raped, and several other students interviewed said they don't feel safe and the school needs more cops and video cameras. They currently have no cameras.

But for the Republican National Convention coming next year, the city of Tampa wants — get this — 164 cameras able to read numbers 3 inches high from 300 meters away; two unmanned aerial vehicles that could carry cameras with zoom lenses or thermal-imaging capabilities; 20 helmet-mounted cameras; six trailer-mounted mobile cameras; six more bread-box-sized cameras for "covert use"; plus four other cameras that can read license plates at 100 mph.

We can't afford one camera to protect our innocent children but we can afford 202 cameras to protect a privileged herd of hair-styled, suit-wearing windbags who are all dissatisfied with being millionaires and want to be billionaires?

Daniel Duda, Clearwater

Hispanics flee in fear of Alabama law Oct. 10

Lawbreakers should worry

This headline misses the point. Hispanics don't flee Alabama or any other state just because they are Hispanics; they flee because they are illegals.

The first sentence had it right: "Alabama estimated 130,000 illegal immigrants are worried. They are confused. And in some cases, they have disappeared."

Anyone doing something illegal should fear the law.

Carlos S. Quiros, Tampa

Employment opportunity

It seems the illegal immigrant law passed in Alabama has caused the illegals to flee the state and stop sending their children to school. It has also caused a problem for the farmers getting their product harvested.

This is an opportunity for the government to stop paying all the healthy welfare freeloaders who live in public housing and bus them to the fields to harvest those crops.

Charles R. Prevatte, Dade City

Friday's letters: Hillsborough agency working to keep kids safe 10/13/11 [Last modified: Friday, October 14, 2011 12:35pm]
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