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Rights of Poor Children

January 11, 1994

* I was sickened by the column by Adela de la Torre (Commentary, Dec. 29) on welfare reform. Descending from her ivory tower at the Cal State Long Beach and wielding studies by the Children's Defense Fund (read Hillary & Co.), she declares that the way to correct the failed system of welfare that has been built and mutilated by the political left is for the state to take poor children away from their parents. We should, she says, "bury our family rhetoric and examine and respect the individual rights of children." De la Torre should walk the streets of the real world, where families are real, not rhetorical, and the most respected right of children is to be in the protective care of their mothers and fathers.

If, God forbid, I should lose my job and my income bracket should drop a notch or two while I seek new work, I do not want some committee to come along and snatch my children because it deems me economically unfit. Kidnaping is kidnaping no matter who does it, and every working-class parent in America should be terrified to read such ideas in a paper with circulation as wide as that of The Times.

PETER J. FRANCIS

San Pedro

* And a Happy Heil Hitler to Adela de la Torre. "We need to decouple the link between biological parent and child. . . . need to shift our focus away from parents toward society's responsibility." To implement the program, a detailed blueprint can be found in Germany's archives.

"How much longer will we act as accomplices to a failed state and federal welfare policy that places parental rights above children's rights?"

There was no doubt in my mind who had more rights in my family. And I, not some nameless bureaucrat, decided what they were. While children, they didn't even have complete freedom of speech.

MARVIN BREHM

Irvine

* Yes, children's rights should come first, ahead of neglectful/abusive parents. And if the only solution is taking the children and raising them in "safe havens," then so be it. But unless something is done to stop these parents from going out and making a whole new batch of kids, the vicious cycle of poverty breeding poverty will continue.

Here's the deal. If parents (mothers and fathers) are judged in court to be unfit, neglectful, abusive, etc. or can't/won't support the children they've already made, then the kids are put into a residential placement and both parents are sterilized, either with surgery (vasectomies) or long-term contraceptives (Norplant).

It's time for the politically incorrect idea that making babies is not a right, it's a privilege. And if you don't support those you've already made, or abuse and neglect them, then why should you have the right to make more?

ANNIE CAROLINE SCHULER

West Hollywood

* De la Torre said what is known but not acknowledged. The welfare system's reliance on foster homes hurts instead of helping children and endangers them instead of protecting.

Yes, they should be in safe havens, state-run, well-monitored, their staff thoroughly investigated before hiring.

BEA SPEARS

Santa Maria

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