CHILDREN OF NEGLECT
Children have been an integral part of Marianna's history . The town was named for Mary and
Anna, daughters of Robert Beverage, owner of the site. And in 1864, boys and old men
resisted Federal troops in the battle of Mariana .
How ironic then, that this client panhandle village should be the home of an infamous hostage
house for boys .
Denounced by Federal officials, condemned by members of the legislature and cabinet, the
Florida's School for Boys at Mariana has finally generated interest in Governor Claude Kirk .
Despite his previous veto of a $527,000.00 division of the youth services appropriation with
$86,790.00 earmarked specifically for Mariana , despite his passive response to reports from
the Interim Committee on juvenile delinquency and crime, and despite his supine reaction to
Federal reports that Mariana is a monstrosity, the governor now claims somebody should have
blown the horn a long time ago .
But better tardy concern than continued negligence. The point now is to find funds for repairs,
new construction, better personal and a bigger staff .
And essay in today's Floridian describes the failure of Mariana , it's leaking ceilings and broken
walls, bucket toilets and rabbit tobacco, disturbed children and inadequate staff, sex
perversions and limited supervision. It's clearly demonstrates the needs:
Funds to hire more social workers, to increase the ratio from 200 to 1 to 30 to 1
Funds to train psychiatric personnel to serve the mentally disturbed .
Funds to increase the quality and quantity of supervisory personnel, such as cottage parents.
Funds to repair, and funds to build new facilities .
In addition, the cabinet should consider the establishment of halfway houses near the major
metropolitan centers . This type of facility would serve as a screening agency, to determine
which hardcore cases should be sent to Mariana and Okeechobee. The rest would remain at
the halfway house near families and removed from the crushing and influence of difficult
criminal and psychotic cases .
Florida must lift its troubled children from an environment as destructive as Marianna. The
poverty of that effort must not be allowed to strip the last allusions from those its serves. A
child's development is among the fragile things. It must be cultivated with generous
understanding, not a paucity of concern.
Only when this is clear will our difficult children find life the wonder and delight it should be .