Ways to help the homeless stay out of harm's way

I am writing in response to Michael Stoops's and Brian Levin's Oct. 18 Opinion piece, "A vile teen fad: beating the homeless." This situation is beyond tragic. While such incidents have not recently happened in Boston, they demonstrate the frightening danger that the homeless face on the streets of our cities.

Every day, the Boston Rescue Mission works to help the homeless get off the streets – emphasizing the danger from attacks, the impact of weather, poor nutrition, and myriad other things that plague them. Some listen. They grow sick and tired of being sick and tired, and they make the commitment to change their lives. Others can't summon the strength to give up their addictions or seek the mental health assistance they sorely need. No one should be on the streets, but our country allows us the freedom to be there, even when our wisdom fails us.

Our country doesn't allow us to beat our fellow humans or treat them with the disrespect and hatred that has recently been demonstrated toward the homeless. We tell our clients to be careful and to stay in groups. To the citizens of the area we say: Treat the homeless with respect and dignity, encourage them to seek help at the mission or one of the other service providers, rather than giving them money. And if you see someone mistreating a homeless person, report them to the police.
The Rev. John Samaan
President and CEO, Boston Rescue Mission

Regarding Michael Stoops's and Brian Levin's Oct. 18 Opinion piece about teens beating the homeless: Another tactic to counter this trend might be to make a course in parenting mandatory in high school, or earlier.
Richard Sinclair
Elberta, Ala.

Families need to talk to one another

Regarding the Oct. 6 article, "For not that much more, Americans opting to eat out": As a marriage and family therapist I know how valuable the time around a dinner table can be. Please, parents, if you don't want to cook, pick up something to go, bring it home, turn off the TV, and talk to your children. Good topics for all: "What was the best thing that happened to you today, and what was the worst thing that happened to you today?"

Parents and children need to spend time together in their homes. Even if the take-out food is not as healthy as it could be, the whole family will benefit from being together. Of course, it's a good idea to set some guidelines for these meals (i.e., one person at a time will speak, all will listen with their hearts, etc). This is called family quality time.
Mariah Lang Braxton
Arroyo Grande, Calif.

Leading today's Girls Scouts

Thank you for your Oct. 11 editorial, "A new Girl Scout pledge: relevance." It was very interesting. As a former Girl Scout myself (Junior) I have fond memories of my years in Scouts. I am glad to hear that they are coming up to the present era. Today's young girls and young women have so much more to be concerned with than I did at their age. I am a certified Boy Scout leader, my husband is an Eagle Scout (as are his three older brothers), and our oldest son is a Tenderfoot in Boy Scouts. Our youngest son will become a Tiger Cub next year when he turns 7.

After reading your editorial, I am seriously thinking about whether I might become a Girl Scout leader in some way. I feel a responsibility to give back what I was given as a Scout (even though I have no daughters).
Katherine D. Culton
Kennedale, Texas

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted will appear in print and on our website, www.csmonitor.com.

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