I found Mr. Westerhold's column of Jan. 7 discussing the policy of reporting the name of a 14-year-old youth under his new policy for "...allegedly throwing a rock at a moving vehicle on Venice Road and causing injury to the driver...." interesting.
"I tried to address the issue raised. I tried to tell him that it is this newspaper's obligation to fully inform readers, that it is MY JOB to make sure we do that," he wrote. "Ma'am, we reported the story because someone was injured on a heavily traveled road and someone was arrested on a felony."
I see no new rationale or even anything new that comes close to justifying his new policy. Was it not always the responsibility of his predecessors to "fully inform" their readers? Certainly, they understood that and yet chose for some reason not to publish names of juveniles who commit crimes even in very serious felonies.
One of the most important activities that any of us do on this earth is to have children and to raise them to become responsible, productive, self-reliant and law-abiding adults. Some of us fail but the vast majority of parents succeed at this despite the ever-increasing difficulty of doing so caused by the continuing lowering of our moral and ethical standards. This duty to help our children become responsible adults is often more arduous than our work.
In carrying out this duty it has long been recognized by our society that it is important that we all (newspapers included) share this responsibility. This is why we spend so much time and money to support our school systems, pre-schools, day care facilities and run juvenile court systems. Kids have always made and will continue to make stupid mistakes, take not well thought out actions and sometimes cause serious harm. We need to protect, guide and correct them as they journey through this process. It is neither his job nor my job to publish the failure of our youth. It is the duty of the parents, the person harmed, the police and the court system to deal with an errant child and to hopefully guide him through his trials and tribulations caused by his actions.
The age of 18 is the age our youth are considered adults and there is a whole body of law dealing with the difference between juveniles and adults. In certain situations, the protection from publicity, scorn and ridicule should no longer be accorded to certain youth and there is a system in place for authorities to label juvenile offenders as adults. In those cases, it is his duty to report their names and keep us fully informed. I suggest that he follow that as a guide to when he should and should not report the names of children who have committed an alleged crime.
I am sure that if he actually devoted some time trying to discern the past rationale of his predecessors, he will be able to come up with other additional reasons for their policy.