Teen Gang Violence

'Not a School Issue'?

I was pleased to see that the topic of gang violence in Northern Virginia reached the front page of The Washington Post ["Herndon Teen Killed in Suspected Gang Attack," May 18]. It warrants front-page attention. Gang-related activities are becoming more common and more violent, affecting all communities in Northern Virginia.

I was stunned, however, to read the statements made by Janice Leslie, principal at Herndon High School, that the homicide "is not a school issue. . . . This happened in the community" and that "the only connection is that this young man [the victim] attended the high school."

These statements warrant much scrutiny. The Herndon police suspect that the victim was a member of a rival gang. When gang members are students in our schools, gang violence becomes a school issue.

The parents of students who attend Herndon High School should not let their principal take a free pass on this issue. Unless the schools are willing to get directly involved, gang-related activities and violence will only become a more serious and pervasive problem in our community.

Susan Klimek Buckley


Communities Needed

To Curb Kids' Obesity

I read with great interest the article "Fairhill Fanatics Make Fitness Fun" [Fairfax Extra, May 13]. I also commend you on publishing such an article for the general public to read.

I am a doctoral student in nursing administration, health care policy and health care ethics at George Mason University. I recently completed a major project addressing the rising epidemic of childhood obesity in the United States.

The focus of the project was how to develop community involvement to "stem the tide" of this dramatic phenomenon, childhood obesity.

Fairhill's program is a great beginning to show what a community can do to become involved. However, what about the children whose parents cannot bring them an hour early to school because of transportation or work-related issues?

Current research shows that the children who most need assistance are from families that have the least resources to combat the situation. So, though Fairhill has the right idea, much more must be done to help our youth.

I have established a Web site, www.pediatricnursing.net/toolkit, which includes a PowerPoint presentation on the problem, a brochure to develop broad-based awareness, a sample letter to community leaders to support efforts to combat childhood obesity and links to agencies that have grant money available for communities to use in helping our nation's youth.

The purpose of the Web site is to arm community members with the resources that are needed to initiate community-based programs to reach all the youth within the community.

Again, I appreciate your efforts in raising the awareness of this very frightening epidemic that is striking our youth of today.

Linda Henry