Letters: Fires, Foster Parents and Birth Control

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Listeners and blog readers comment about the wildfires that have swept across Southern California, and the appropriate compensation for foster parents. They also share their thoughts on providing prescription birth control pills to middle-school students.


It's Tuesday, the day we read from your e-mail and blog comments.

Our program last week on prescription birth control and at what age it should be made available prompted a lot of mail including this comment from Michele Dickison(ph).

I'm a registered nurse, she wrote, and oral contraceptives are not without side effects. I just took care of a young, otherwise healthy woman who developed a large blood clot in her leg. She had put on the pill by her gynecologist with the input of her mother.

It was obviously important that the health care team knew she was taking the pill so she could be properly treated. Would an 11-year-old be able to give an appropriate health history before being prescribed the pill by the school nurse? Parents need to be involved.

Doug McCoy(ph) commented: Who are we kidding? Studies for the last 20 years have proven that across the Western democracies, young people become sexually active at about the age of 15 and a half years old. We need to help these young people learn to be safe when they engage in this activity, not ignore that it's going on.

Mary Callahan's op-ed on being a foster parent sent a lot of you to your computer keyboards. Phil Robertson(ph) in Denver said that as a two-time foster parent, I think no one with any sense would do it for the money alone. I'm glad I did it, but it was one of the hardest things I've ever done. The money helped on those days when everything was going badly. I never started fostering without the will and the motivation to do it from the heart, but I might not have continued without the additional financial incentive.

We talked about the fires that tore through parts of Southern California last week and asked what you would take if forced to leave your home in just a couple of minutes.

Kurt(ph) in Renton, Washington, which he describes as earthquake, volcano and tsunami country, wrote to say, what does one take in an emergency? Well, that's easy for me, my external computer hard drive. On it resides financial records, personal journals, photographs, the music from old LPs and more. With so much being convertible to computer files, everybody should have a hard drive with the record of their life stored on it sitting at the exit to their home.

And the comparison between the very different responses to Hurricane Katrina and the fires in Southern California sent Linda(ph) to our blog. While I have great compassion for those who are suffering in California fires, she wrote, it's obvious money talks. This is not a race issue, but an economic and a political one. Living in an area that was surrounded by fires this summer, our town and lands were largely left to burn by the federal government. No one paid much attention to our danger until the local rich folks' homes were threatened, then the governor got involved.

Tee Rash(ph) asks, does anybody ever considered that San Diego learned a lesson from the Cedar Fire in 2003? We didn't have this kind of response in 2003, it was slower. The military couldn't communicate with civilian firefighters, there were problems. We are not New Orleans, he continued, this is not Katrina. We are a community that has pulled together to support each other. Color means nothing to us. At this point, the rest of the nation is just looking for a reason to bash us.

And finally, author John McWhorter suggested on our program that the best way to respond to nooses is to ignore them. Marie Gibson(ph) wrote this on our blog, changes in our civil rights have not come through being calm. Changes have most often occurred through people becoming enraged and saying: we will not tolerate this bad behavior, this bully behavior, this racism.

If you have comments, questions or corrections for us, the best way to reach us is by e-mail, the address is talk@npr.org. Please let us know where you're writing from and give us some help on how to pronounce your name.

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