1. Opinion

There is no easy solution to help traumatized teens

Here’s what readers had to say in Sunday’s letters to the editor.
A plan by a Hillsborough County Juvenile Justice Advisory board would allow problem foster children to be housed in this secure facility on East Columbus Drive. [LUIS SANTANA | TIMES | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Oct. 5

There is just no easy answer

What traumatized kids need | Column, Oct. 1

In Roy Miller’s column, he rightfully condemns the notion that traumatized hard-to-place teenagers in the child welfare system should be locked up.

However, even as long-range solutions are being studied following his recommendation of forming a statewide work group, something needs to change. As a long-time guardian ad litem and former CEO of a child welfare case management agency in another state, I know full well what is broken and which proposed alternatives to a lock-down facility are totally unrealistic.

One popular suggestion is to recruit more foster families. Is it realistic to think that there are a number of families out there who are willing to take an oppositional teenager who has been traumatized by a lifetime of neglect into their home? In general, foster families currently receive only minimal training in how to handle children who have suffered neglect or abuse. Even if some families can be found, who will pay for the intensive parenting support that is needed to help a traumatized teenager respond to the care of his/her new family?

Those proposing a lock-down alternative for the supposed small number of hard-to-manage teens should be mindful that any lock-down facility should not merely be a euphemism for a jail. In my work as a guardian, I have visited a number of the existing non-lock-down local group homes and have found them lacking in anything that resembles a family-type atmosphere that supports and nurtures children.

However, with reluctance, I do support the notion of some short-term lock-down facilities as long as they are staffed by highly trained individuals who understand trauma and are committed to providing an accepting and supportive philosophy of child management. But let’s be clear, it can only be tolerated as a short-term band aid.

Richard Horowitz, Palm Harbor

An inexpensive solution

Clean up their Act | Editorial, Sept. 29

I was delighted to read your editorial’s recommendation that the state should restore the Statewide Advocacy Council. I was a member of a local council for years and had done investigations of patient complaints in mental health treatment facilities.

Our council members were so dismayed to learn that the state had cancelled the program. Council members were all volunteers, receiving only minimal mileage reimbursement. The entire state program cost was less than $500,000, which was mainly administrative staff salaries. What a huge mistake to cancel the program. Mental health patients lost an advocacy protection.

Rosann Toshich, Spring Hill

A label for many, not one

Public opinion will direct impeachment path | Column, Sept. 29

President Donald Trump [PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS | AP]

Toward the end of her column, Peggy Noonan says, “It is infuriating that members of America’s leadership so often show themselves to the world as self-enriching. ... In the 21st century our political figures and their families too often look like scrounging grifters — Americans with connections who can be hired, who leverage connections to fame for profit.”

Then she mentions Hunter Biden. Excuse me! What about the whole Trump family, including the president himself?

Witness the Trump Hotel, Mar-a-Lago, his golf club in Ireland, all touted by the president himself. To the best of my knowledge, his children are profiting from using his name in businesses that he still profits from. Let’s put the label where it belongs.

Alice Smith, St. Petersburg

A nullification campaign

Actor William Shatner as Captain Kirk on the classic TV series "Star Trek," 1967 Tribune file photo; President Donald Trump, Associated Press, Evan Vucci; Humphrey Bogart as Captain Queeg, Times files [Provided]

Trump makes Captain Queeg look like Captain Kirk | Column, Sept. 29

Hypocritical sanctimony and amateur psychoanalysis undermine, rather than advance, the Democrats’ election nullification campaign. Leonard Pitts’ screed exceeds even the new norm of declaring guilt before the first witness has spoken or the first document has been read, let alone challenged by the accused. That’s Vladimir Putin’s concept of justice, not ours. The true peril to our republic comes from the rampant undermining of our standards and procedures in order to slay the alleged dragon. These traditions will be hard to repair, even if the effort dubiously succeeds. Patriots should be concerned about open access to diplomatic conversations (a principle established by George Washington), leaky congressional committees, repurposing the whistle blower statute, questioning the personal integrity of officials in the intelligence agencies and Justice Department, our peculiarly partisan interest in the possible political ramifications of foreign interactions by Donald Trump, and no one else, and keeping the executive, legislative and judicial branches (and the media) engaged with these serial accusations, and little else. A cynic might wish for a Boy Scout Pence versus Mrs. Marx contest in 2020, but that’s not what really matters, is it?

Pat Byrne, Largo

Others will follow his lead

President unleashes his fury | Oct. 3

President Donald Trump has demonstrated time and again a flagrant disregard for the law of the United States. In doing so, he is actively setting the precedent that any sitting president can carry themselves the way that he has. This then means that a given president, whether conservative or progressive, could extend their power with total disregard for the checks and balances of our republic established centuries ago by our forefathers. I urge our Florida members of Congress to seek the deserved impeachment of President Trump. I hope and trust that my elected officials will make the right decision and not simply follow party lines in order to save face with their peers; moreover, their actions should represent the people and serve to affirm the integrity of the appropriate legal process of the legislative branch of our nation.

Maryssa Kane, Tampa


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