Letter to the Editor:
Recently the Des Moines Register has printed a series of articles pertaining to the treatment and education of minors housed at the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo. Some of the facts in their articles are not accurate. The articles are also particularly biased and negative toward the staff, as a whole, being abusive and unqualified to keep this facility running properly. These blanket statements, judging the staff and administration as a whole, as guilty before-hand seem not to be the unbiased journalism I was taught in high school and again at Iowa State University.
I recently sent a letter to the Register in hopes of them not only re-checking their facts but also finding more positive stories regarding juvenile's time at the facility. The following letter was sent to, but never published in, the Register. I am in hopes that you will publish this for the sake of the young ladies (as well as young men), the Juvenile Home and the Tama-Toledo community.
"Please check your facts regarding the buildings at the State Juvenile Home in Toledo. Twice now it has been reported that some of the buildings date back to the days of Leander Clark College. That College merged with Coe College in 1918, 95 years ago. The last building from the College era, "Mary Beatty Hall, was torn down in 1951." (gleaned from the Toledo, Iowa Sesquicentennial Book, 2003.) The cottages were not built as college dormitories but as cottages for young men and women with virtually no other place to go. My parents went to school with many of those children who are now upstanding citizens. It was a different era and environment then.
As a life-long member of the Tama-Toledo community, the above lack of fact-checking in order to dramatize the on-going reviews at the Juvenile Home greatly disappoints me. I believe this to be only one example throughout the series of articles. I realize there is no way to hear the other side of the stories from staff and administrators because of confidentiality but I hope the people of Iowa will take some of what is reported with a grain of salt. There is more than meets the eye here. And I hope the people looking into the issues and charges brought against the Home, staff and administrators have had the opportunity to interview these individuals involved, many of whom have dedicated their lives and careers to bettering these children's lives.
Yes, there need to be changes. I think if you ask anyone involved they would agree. But one question I would like to pose is are those involved in the everyday lives of these children being asked to tell their stories and give their opinions to this board? They are involved with these girls morning, noon and night and see everything that happens in context. If there are abuses going on, those need to be taken care of by the proper authorities. But there are also so many positive stories that have come out of that facility.
Please do our community and the Juvenile Home "wards" a favor and find some of the success stories from these young ladies.