- The Washington Times - Friday, July 19, 2002

Columnist stirs ADHD debate

I normally agree with Armstrong Williams, but his column regarding attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is off base ("Mental health industry," Commentary, Tuesday).
My wife and I had the same opinion as Mr. Williams does before our son was diagnosed with ADHD. While we remain convinced that children are overdiagnosed with this disorder, we recognize that it is not a phantom condition dreamed up by drug company executives.
Our son, who is 8, was diagnosed with the disorder, first by a private psychologist, then by his pediatrician. His problem is more attention deficit than hyperactivity, although he certainly can be hyperactive. His inability to pay attention and focus on a task affected his schoolwork, his homework, his ability to compete in organized sports and his relationships with his peers and siblings.
We decided very reluctantly to accept the diagnosis and to medicate our son at the lowest possible dose (not of Ritalin but another drug). We determined that we owed it to him to give it a try. The worst that could happen would be that it would be ineffective. The first day he was on the drug, his teacher called in the afternoon (we had not told her he would be taking the drug) to exclaim about the "night-and-day" difference in our son's ability to concentrate, complete his assignments and learn. Although he still struggles somewhat at school, he at least is no longer hampered by his inability to pay attention.
My wife and I fully agree that diagnoses of ADHD should be made by licensed professionals and that parents should not be accused by school workers, of all people, of "neglecting" their children if they refuse to medicate the children. We are very involved parents who are not at all shy about disciplining our children.
In our case, at least, the diagnosis was a correct one, and our son is benefiting from the medication he takes. We worried at first about altering his personality before we realized that the drug he takes merely compensates for what he is unable to do on his own.

FRANCIS J. DIETZ
Woodbridge, Va.I was relieved to read Armstrong Williams' column. He came right out and said what many are afraid to admit: that parents all over the metro area are often coerced by school personnel into putting their children on psychiatric medications. Sometimes they are given no other option and are threatened with the idea of having Social Services step in because they are "medically neglecting" their children.
Things are quite different in Virginia. In April, Gov. Mark Warner signed a law called Policies Regarding Medication Recommendations by School Personnel, which requires the state Board of Education to develop and implement policies prohibiting school personnel from recommending the use of psychotropic medications for any student.
This is a power often abused by school counselors, administrators and teachers. Parents should be given every option regarding their child's medical care and should be free to make their own decisions free of threats and coercion. Schools are no place to play doctor.

MICHELLE PALMER
Director
Citizens Commission on Human Rights
Washington

U.S. doesn't need to import convicts

One might think that even our tone-deaf Congress would realize that legislation likely to increase crime would be unpopular among constituents. The bipartisan support for Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Barney Frank's criminal alien relief bill, therefore, came as a surprise ("Immigration bill offers felons a second chance," Page 1, Wednesday). Sadly, that position is symptomatic of a larger affliction.
A review of the last few weeks reveals how little the government has done to protect Americans from physical threats caused by immigration chaos. Visitors and immigrants continue to enter from the terror-supporting nations in the Middle East as if September 11 had never happened. Visas are still handed out like candy by Saudi travel agents rather than through a meticulous screening by American officials. We were assured by government talking heads that the murderous July Fourth rampage at Los Angeles International Airport was not terrorism, but merely the action of an immigrant suffering from financial stress.
Apparently, the immigration-industrial complex of cheap-labor interests has such a stranglehold on government that future terrorist attacks are seen quietly as the acceptable cost of doing business. Therefore, the public gets expensive window dressing rather than the genuine border and immigration enforcement required.

BRENDA WALKER
Berkeley, Calif.

Spain to Morocco:Kindly get off our island

After reading the letter "Morocco defends islet incursion" in yesterday's paper, and wishing to give your readers an alternate vision of the facts concerning this issue, I am responding with a detailed note outlining the Spanish position on the islet of Perejil.
Concerning recent events in the islet, I would like to highlight several points that are of the utmost importance for understanding exactly what happened:
On July 11, members of the Royal Moroccan Gendarmery disembarked on the island of Perejil and set up two tents and flags of the Kingdom of Morocco. The Spanish Civil Guard saw them and warned them to leave the island. The Moroccans refused and said they were on Moroccan territory.
The same day, the Spanish government requested clarification from Moroccan officials through telephone contacts at various levels. Finally, the Moroccan authorities explained that Morocco had decided to set up an observation post on the island as part of its fight against terrorism and illegal immigration.
The Spanish government immediately sent a note verbale to the Embassy of Morocco in Madrid requesting that Morocco take all necessary measures to return to the previous status quo. This note verbale was responded to with another note verbale, dated July 15, reasserting Moroccan determination to maintain the occupation of the isle.
Spain understood this occupation to be a rupture of the status quo, which has prevailed for several decades and has meant the lack of a permanent presence there, the absence of symbols of sovereignty and the abstention from activities related to such by both countries.
The unique nature of this status quo, exclusive to this island, is because of the absence of sufficient historical or legal arguments to prove unequivocally either Spanish or Moroccan sovereignty over the island, even though Spain considers its position that the island is Spanish to be legitimate.
Spain considers the action of Morocco to be contrary to the principles governing relations between Spain and her friends. Specifically, in no way is it in keeping with the intentions of the Treaty of Friendship, Good Neighbors and Cooperation signed by the two countries on July 4, 1991.
Furthermore, this type of action is not in keeping with international law, especially with a basic principle of these rules, that of ius cogens, to wit, Article 2 of the United Nations Charter, which obliges countries to resolve their disputes through peaceful means and prohibits recourse to threats or the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state. For all of these reasons, the Spanish government urged the government of Morocco to return to the status quo prevailing before these events.
After the failure of all these efforts, the Spanish government decided to call back the Spanish ambassador in Morocco for consultations on the night of July 16. On the morning of July 17, the Spanish government felt compelled to order the withdrawal of the Moroccan detachment from the island of Perejil. The operation was carried out successfully and without casualties or injuries.
Contrary to some news reports, no agreement was reached between Spain and Morocco on the evening of July 16, as claimed by some Moroccan officials, that would have led to Moroccan withdrawal a few hours before the operation by Spanish troops.
Contacts obviously were maintained between Spain and Morocco, but at no time did the latter show its willingness to withdraw.
Spain wishes to maintain fruitful relations of friendship and cooperation with the Kingdom of Morocco and expresses its willingness to initiate conversations to that aim as of this very moment.

FLORENTINO SOTOMAYOR
Press officer
Embassy of Spain
Washington

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