Abuse commentary misses the mark on important topic

I am the lead author of the new study examining current and alternative measures of repeat child abuse in Alaska. The Alaska Dispatch News reported on that study on Dec. 15, and on Dec. 29 a commentary by Richard Wexler (of the Virginia-based National Coalition for Child Protection Reform) was published, asserting that the study is based on “faulty assumptions and questionable data.” In fact, Mr. Wexler’s commentary does not address the study’s content or its findings. Instead, he uses it as a prop for a general discussion about a longstanding debate in child protection: whether it is better to remove children from their homes or to intervene with families and keep children at home.

Our study did not address that complex issue or propose any solutions. We don’t understand what “assumptions” Mr. Wexler is referring to, and the data we used were from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) and the Alaska Office of Children’s Services. All major limitations of the data are mentioned in our paper, and several more limitations are listed in the associated documentation on NCANDS website. The most important thing is to recognize that child abuse in Alaska is significant and very serious. We urgently need to do better at keeping Alaska’s children safe. While Mr. Wexler’s commentary was off the mark in discussing our study, we welcome anything that raises awareness about potential ways of better protecting Alaska’s most vulnerable citizens.

— Diwakar Vadapalli

assistant professor of public policy,

Institute of Social and Economic

Research,

University of Alaska Anchorage

Help preserve Denali's wolves

I am writing in support of creating a permanent protective buffer for Denali wolves on state lands along the northeastern border of Denali National Park. The preservation of this important wildlife resource is important to the economy of the state of Alaska, directly affecting tourism dollars; it is also a critical resource to keep nature in balance and for the satisfaction of wildlife viewers such as myself.

I ask the state of Alaska to transfer a permanent, no-take, buffer conservation easement east of the parks to the federal government in exchange for the federal government transferring a like-value easement to the state of Alaska. Such easement transfer can help sustain the wolves in Denali National Park.

— Mary Vavrik

Anchorage

It's not just the murres

that are dying

I know and love murres from time spent on boats in Prince William Sound, so I’ve been following the murre die-off story with sadness. Then, a couple days ago, I found a dead murre in the woods near Earthquake Park in Anchorage.

Human-caused climate change seems to be magnifying the natural cycles that already exist, from droughts to wildfires to storms. Now there seem to be more frequent and intense die-offs as well. It isn’t just the murres. Sea stars, auklets, fin whales, fur seals and tiny red crabs have all been in the news lately, suffering “extreme mortality events.” The warm-water “blob” in the Pacific, now combined with El Nino, may be contributing or causing these die-offs by way of reductions in feed fish, greater toxicity from algal blooms and/or the spread of marine diseases.

We care about this, right? And about the people who depend on healthy oceans, which is all of us! Support a carbon fee and dividend as recommended by Sandy Henschel (ADN letters, Jan. 8). Learn ways to make our lives more energy efficient as outlined by Dr. Tom Marsik (ADN commentary, Jan. 8). Join the Alaska Youth for Environmental Action for a potluck and letter-writing session focused on climate change solutions. (Jan. 18, 6-8 p.m., 921 W. Sixth Ave.) Let’s protect what we love.

— Jan Bronson

Anchorage

The views expressed here are the writers' own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a letter under 200 words for consideration, email letters@alaskadispatch.com, or click here to submit via any web browser. Submitting a letter to the editor constitutes granting permission for it to be edited for clarity, accuracy and brevity. Send longer works of opinion to commentary@alaskadispatch.com.