Where kids can be kids | May 22, commentary
Let's keep an eye on the children
Say it isn't so! Leave the children alone in a park? Before anyone rushes to this brave new world for defenseless children, I highly recommend an online check with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which lists the convicted sexual offenders and predators living within a certain radius of a requested address.
As a grandparent who frequently takes children to playgrounds, I watch (carefully) from a distance. The children play happily with others, while I keep my eyes open for any potential dangers. The playground we frequently enjoy has nine offenders listed within 1 mile, and 126 within 3 miles.
Now that Lenore Skenazy suggests the children be left unsupervised, knowing that predators can also read, I suspect that some will be smart enough to watch for children being dropped off by brave guardians who are willing to gamble that "everything will be okay."
Pat Ellis, St. Petersburg
Kids need recess
Kudos to Lenore Skenazy, author of Free Range Kids, who is trying to bring some common sense to our society about the need for our children to enjoy childhood through the kind of old-fashioned play for play's sake that is disappearing as a result of fear, media addiction and what she did not mention, schools that have done away with recess.
We should be asking why this is. Do schools fear lawsuits? Is the Florida sun too hot? Is there no time for recess because of the pressure of high-stakes testing? Do parents even realize that children do not have recess? (Physical education classes are not the same as recess.)
We should be clamoring to restore recess in schools. The research is there that supports this. The new "Adventure Playgrounds" offer a wonderful model of how to equip playgrounds so that children can engage in imaginative play. The materials are simple, inexpensive. Trees should be planted to offer shade from the sun.
The highlight of my day is watching the children at the school that I helped to found playing at recess. They organize themselves into games, they climb trees, they swing on the rope swings, they dig in the ground, they look for animal life, they build houses. Sometimes they just sit and talk. But it is a free time to be children. Not one child in the school is obese. They know how to amuse themselves without benefit of technical devices. Their academic performance is all the better for this time they have to breathe out and enjoy childhood.
Barbara Bedingfield, Largo
Clear a way for legal entry
With illegal immigration being such a major issue, it is really disturbing to see it handled in such a cavalier fashion. When Arizona became so frustrated with the lack of federal support that stepped-up local action became the last resort, even our president determined it to be a laughing matter.
Mainly, those who feel illegal immigration to be no problem constantly mislabel it. Most conversations and writings leave off the word "illegal." That makes it appear that those concerned are against all immigration, especially Hispanics. This is not the case. The cost of having so many residents in our country illegally is staggering. Lost tax revenue, so many people living in fear, money being sent out of our country, burdens on all our public services, and high crime rates are just a few.
Our federal government has failed us on this issue for many years. If so many of these people are needed or wanted in our country, then it should not be too difficult to create an avenue for legal entry. Both our legal residents and those who are determined to enter illegally would benefit from laws making a legal entry possible.
The whole discussion should be aimed at a realistic solution that would make legal entry possible and require that all who enter become productive, English-speaking citizens. It is time to stop the fight against eliminating illegal immigration and start incorporating the legal path.
Also, our president and Congress should be front and center in this action, and the Mexican president's opinion should be kept in Mexico.
Robert E. Hagaman, Homosassa
Calderon slams gun, immigration laws May 21, story
Mexico has responsibilities
Mexican President Felipe Calderon's message was a feeble try at sleight of hand. He was attempting to blame Mexico's criminal drug enterprise and the lack of law enforcement on the United States.
He uses the antigun factions' favorite term "assault weapons" as a lightning rod to distract from Mexico's weak border security, massive drug enterprise and general corruption pervading their government. He cites 7,000 gun shops along the border with Mexico as one of Mexico's problems that we foster. Even if their criminals obtain weapons, how do they get into Mexico under the watch of their border security?
His opinion of the Arizona immigration law is ludicrous. The law permits law enforcement to check the immigration status of people they stop for other reasons. What is wrong here? If anyone is suspected of a traffic offense they are asked for: driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance. I don't think that an undocumented "immigrant" could legally obtain those kinds of documents.
If border enforcement were effective, then it would seem that illegal weapons and drugs would not be as easily ferried back and forth. Calderon seemed a little short on what Mexico is doing about "our" problem other than using their army in a manner that Americans would not stand for.
Wayne Mock, St. Petersburg
Making fun of a law is not the same as disobeying that law. Rick Scott, a Republican candidate for governor, would have Florida voters believe they are the same thing in a recent TV ad flooding the airwaves. He shows the president of the United States mocking a law (presumably the Arizona immigration law) and then accuses him of disobeying that law.
Any politician (and that is precisely what Scott is despite his protestations to the contrary) who underestimates the intelligence of the people of Florida does not deserve their electoral support.
Frank Entis, Tampa
While going through the coupons, I discovered a full-page ad for Bounty and Charmin which was for Target, along with their logo. After I recognized the products, it took a second to realize that everything was in Spanish then English: "Disponible en Target" or "Available at Target."
I was shocked and disappointed. If I was in a Hispanic country, I would expect this. However, I was born and raised in the United States of America. If a person is bilingual, I think it is a plus and a gift. However, I'm tired of having Spanish shoved down my throat every time I turn around. Will I think twice about shopping at Target? You bet I will.
Krista Rauch, Gulfport