- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:


Oct. 12

The Parkersburg News and Sentinel on questioning drug companies:

Most businesses are formed with the intent of making a profit, along with delivering a good or service. No one begrudges business owners, managers and employees the honest fruits of their labor. But when those businesses become predatory, taking advantage of a vulnerable population to profit massively, questions should be raised.

In West Virginia, some pharmaceutical companies, partnered with unscrupulous doctors, appear to have taken advantage of the increasing number of opioid addicts to pull in hefty sums of money.

Drug wholesalers AmerisourceBergen and McKesson Corp. have already settled with the Mountain State for shipping millions of hydrocodone or oxycodone pills. Cardinal Health Inc. shipped more than double the number of pills of any other supplier from 2007 to 2012 and is in the midst of a lawsuit in Boone County Circuit Court. They were sending “an extraordinary number of doses of medication for a small state like ours,” according to one lawmaker. There are fewer than 2 million people in West Virginia.

Meanwhile, the crimes against our youngest generation continue to pile up, seemingly in lockstep with the increase in substance abuse in our state.

Last year, West Virginia’s 20 child advocacy centers served 3,518 children, a nearly 50 percent increase over the past five years, according to the agency. One in every 100 children in the area served were seen by the centers last year.

A drug pusher on the streets who intentionally flooded a neighborhood with dangerous drugs, feeding addictions that led to the abuse and neglect of children, would get very little mercy in our criminal courts.

And while pharmaceutical companies might argue they and the “doctors” with whom they work were at first simply meeting demand, the business decisions are not so easily defended today. Choosing to fuel a substance abuse epidemic that is crippling an entire state, and damaging even our youngest citizens is indefensible, and stockholders should let those companies know they will not stand for it.




Oct. 12

The Charleston Daily Mail on recognizing signs of sexual abuse:

On Monday, hundreds of people gathered in Ripley for a candlelight vigil to celebrate the short life of 10-month-old Emmaleigh Barringer who died last week after being viciously sexually assaulted.

Benjamin Taylor, 32, of Cottageville, has been charged with first-degree murder and first-degree sexual assault. If he is convicted, he faces life in prison, the Gazette-Mail’s Elaina Sauber reported.

The vigil, organized by the 5th Judicial Circuit Court of Appointed Special Advocates for Children, served two purposes: to unite a community rocked by a horrific crime and to raise awareness about child sexual assault.

“This death has really touched a lot of people, I think (because of) the brutality of the crime,” said Kathie King, director of CASA’s Ripley branch.

Indeed it has, and the tragedy also has highlighted the importance of understanding the warning signs and prevalence of child abuse.

As the Gazette-Mail’s Erin Beck reported, few child abuse cases are perpetrated by strangers.

“They’re among us in society,” said Lt. D.B. Swiger, State Police Crimes Against Children Unit. “We all want to envision this horrid looking person that hides in the shadows and commits these crimes. The reality is it’s not the case.”

So how can parents and others keep children safe?

Advocates recommend adults create an environment where children feel safe speaking up about potential abuse, and those children should be taken at their word. Adults and children alike should be unafraid to report suspicions, and adults should teach children the warning signs of abuse in an age-appropriate manner. Becoming educated on the signs of child abuse and getting involved in community-based programs for kids also can help ward off abuse.

Parents also should accept that abuse can happen to their children and must admit that someone they know could be a perpetrator, Beck writes. Often, adults are too afraid to admit a sexual predator could be lurking close by, and that creates an obstacle to keeping children safe.

In “Identifying Child Molesters,” Carla Van Dam points out four ways society can work to prevent child abuse: accepting people who are trusted and respected could be capable of child molestation; showing a willingness to learn about the patterns of child abusers; being willing to intervene to prevent abuse from escalating; and connecting the dots so an abuser doesn’t go from victim to victim.

Baby Emmaleigh’s death is horrifying and has caused outrage statewide. But let’s use that collective outrage to learn more about child abuse and how to better advocate for and protect our children.




Oct. 11

The Inter-Mountain on high-speed internet in the state:

Of course it would be nice if every home and business in West Virginia had a high-speed internet connection. But it would be nice if every family had a reliable car, every school had better equipment, all the potholes were repaired and no one had to pay state taxes, too.

At the risk of being very politically incorrect, it is our guess many Mountain State residents would, if asked to prioritize their needs and wants, place broadband internet service somewhere below No. 1.

The two leading candidates for governor, Republican Bill Cole and Democrat Jim Justice, were asked about the subject last week during their debate in Charleston. Both agreed extending high-speed internet access is important - and it is, to an extent.

But the two disagreed regarding what role state government should play in expanding broadband service. Justice suggested it should be a priority, with government involved in the campaign. Cole, citing the millions of dollars in federal funding wasted on technology projects in West Virginia, said government’s involvement should be limited to prodding private companies to expand high-speed service.

In fact, part of Cole’s position is based on realism. State government simply does not have the tens of millions of dollars needed to get into the broadband business itself.

We find ourselves in a position somewhat like the parent telling a child there’s no money to buy whatever new gadget, toy or clothing is the current fad, even if everyone else has one. We tell the kids having the item in question would be nice - but do we really need it?

High-speed broadband access is a many-faceted issue. Providing it for education is one thing. Extending it for direct economic development is another. For the latter purpose, state government ought to be identifying areas that are priorities for the special cable that carries data at high speeds. For the former, it needs to be recognized that it simply is not feasible to serve to every isolated home. Other technologies should be considered.

Throwing tons of taxpayers’ dollars into government-funded technology programs simply does not make sense for West Virginians, especially given the recent history of waste and inefficiency.

Mountain State residents and businesses cannot afford to sit out the current technology race. That much is true. But we also cannot afford to merely begin sprinting aimlessly. We need to use our heads on this one, for the good of our children and grandchildren.



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