To the editor:
Mr. [Richard] Wexler's suggestion that the Chicago Tribune's coverage of child welfare issues has been motivated by a desire to aggrandize itself ["The Children's Crusade," March 24] is irresponsible. And Mr. Wexler's allegation that the Tribune deliberately set out to dismantle family preservation programs is equally spurious. In fact, as Michael Miner admirably points out elsewhere in the issue [Hot Type], it is Mr. Wexler, a champion of family preservation, who betrays his self-interest. Mr. Wexler himself grudgingly admits that the Tribune became more knowledgeable and nuanced as their coverage proceeded.
Chicagoans owe Ms. Lipinski and her colleagues at the Tribune an extraordinary debt of gratitude for the wake-up call which the "Killing Our Children" series represents. Experiencing these tragedies individually shocked us and humanized child abuse in an unprecedented manner. In doing so, it initiated a community dialog whose reverberations will ultimately improve the lives of children. The Tribune's commitment to finding solutions to the plight of children is demonstrated by their "Saving Our Children" series.
As a social worker I know that child abuse and neglect are complex issues; often they are manifestations of underlying social problems such as poverty and substance abuse. We must grapple with these serious social problems if we have any hope of preventing the continuing abuse of our children. We must also resist the temptation to adopt universal and simplistic solutions to complex problems; neither family perservation, nor foster care, nor Mr. Gingrich's beloved orphanages will be our silver bullet. Competent, knowledgeable professionals must make the most responsible and appropriate decisions in each unique family situation, and must back those decisions up with the provision of quality services.
If only well-intentioned but myopic and self-interested parties such as Mr. Wexler, Mr. Wolf (of the ACLU) and Patrick Murphy would put their considerable egos aside, stop talking and listen with their hearts, as well as their minds, as the Tribune has allowed us to do through their sensitive coverage of these issues.
Lynn Boyle, LCSW