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Parents need to be responsible with children

Nobody could argue the point that it was most unfortunate that two small children in the area were cut while playing with discarded needles recently at a Harrison County park. The two youngsters were with a group of other children at the Summit Park ballfield, playing near a Dumpster.

Although the children were not seriously injured, it will be necessary for them to be tested within six months for possible exposure to HIV, hepatitis or other blood-transmitted diseases. We certainly hope that for the sake of all concerned, the test results show no problems -- especially for the two youngsters.

In the meantime, nobody should be hasty in pointing the finger of blame at those who oversee the maintenance of the Summit Park ballfield and the adjoining land that is part of the facility -- certainly not until it has been determined whether there are sufficient funds to ensure proper cleanup there. Besides, Danny Dotson -- he is president of the Summit Park Association, which operates the park -- said the Dumpster had been cleaned out a short time before the incident.

Harrison County Chief Deputy Gary Wine said that about a dozen syringes -- the kind used for insulin by diabetics -- were found near the Dumpster. One of the children suffered cuts to his arm; the other, cuts to his stomach and face. The syringes were sent to the State Police laboratory, said Wine, who believes the children should be tested immediately for HIV. Even if the needles were not used for drugs, they could still have been contaminated with dried blood.

Dotson has explained that the association does not have the funding to have saturation patrols of the park. The park association's main revenue -- from concessions -- is only about $3,000 to $4,000 per year.

It is our belief that it is not asking too much of parents to share responsibility in keeping their children from playing in areas that are not meant for play, such as Dumpsters.

We know that children are naturally inquisitive and often get into things that they shouldn't. But there are too many children for the county or the park association to "baby-sit." These young people should be adequately warned by their parents or guardians of the dangers that lurk in out-of-bounds places.

Robert F. Stealey

Telegram Editorial Board chairman

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