To the editor:
I have lived and worked most of my life in Steubenville and Jefferson County. I believe in the people who live and work here. I believe in the Steubenville City Schools, its school board, coaching staff and administration. I believe in Sheriff Fred Abdalla, the city of Steubenville and our law enforcement officials. I know from experience when we have a problem, we address it, try to improve the situation and move forward. That is all any community can do. That is what Steubenville will do.
I realize the teenagers who acted irresponsibly have made transgressions that grieve us. I understand the citizens who read about and watched those transgressions in the media are emotionally charged. Those who acted irresponsibly must face the consequences. They must live with their actions and try to make amends. All of us need to reflect and make any necessary changes that might prevent a similar incident from happening again. I am confident we will and hopeful that other communities will learn form our experiences and try to prevent similar things from ever happening.
However, I caution people: Everyone is looking for someone to blame. What we need to do is reflect on our roles as parents, educators and community members and focus on what we can do so it won't happen again. We shouldn't follow the "I'm OK, they are not" syndrome. This social media lynch-mob mentality of pre-judging people and advocating firing them without the accused having a defense is wrong. We have people from all over the world who have no responsibility or credibility in our situation using social media and petitions to criticize our officials. They have that right. Our local news media promotes their efforts by giving us a progress report on their petitions like they would a United Way campaign and by interviewing and soliciting opinions from people wearing masks. They have that right.
Everyone has a right to an opinion, but I believe we should let the institutions responsible for making those decisions make them. I further believe whatever decision they make, we should support. They have all the facts, we don't. The Steubenville school board and administration should decide who leads our schools and our programs. The people of Jefferson County should decide who leads our law enforcement agencies and prosecutor's office. I personally believe in the integrity and quality of work of Jane Hanlin and her office, Abdalla and his office, Steubenville schools and Reno Saccoccia and his coaching staff. I know their integrity and I believe in it. I believe they will work at solving the problems to make the situation better. I hope and pray that the media, community and public in general will let the court and agencies do their jobs, support their decision, and let us as a community go back to doing our jobs.
There are many critics, but we are in the area. Steubenville, we must rely of ourselves to solve our problems. Together we can accomplish anything.