More teen sex, but less help for abortions?

Information from two items in the June 9 Monitor constitute a sad irony. In "More teens have sex and fewer parents know," cites a study that found "1 in 5 kids ages 12, 13, and 14 have had sex."

Another story reports that Texas has just passed bills stripping away $13 million in state funds from contraception and family-planning programs and placing more hurdles in the way of females who choose to have abortions ("Texas tilts right on abortion and other issues").

American society bombards children with sex-loaded media, yet here we have lawmakers denying females, particularly very young minority teens, access to help in preventing or dealing with unwanted pregnancy.
Holly Massey
Livermore, Calif.

America's commitment problems

Regarding your June 10 article "Building three nations at once": I do not see this administration succeeding in nation-building in Iraq. I have yet to see any significant accomplishment in rebuilding Afghanistan.

Indeed, the Taliban may have been marginalized to a large extent, but they are far from eliminated as a future threat. Anarchy reigns in all of the country. The current administration does not have the necessary commitment, simply because we do not have the stomach to deal with Afghanistan's political quagmire.

Most of all, no one really cares about Afghanistan. At some point, we will tire of Iraq as well.
Avi Semo
Deray Beach, Fla.

DDT may be harmful, but it saves lives

As bad as DDT is or might be, how does the impact of its use compare with the lives of the three children per minute who die from malaria worldwide?

Your May 29 article, "Push to fund DDT in fight against malaria," states that scientists are divided on the harm DDT can do. No one should be unclear about the harm malaria can do. Every year, 300 million to 500 million cases and more than 1 million deaths translate into lost income, lost schooling, lost productivity, and lost lives.

Butterflies have returned to the Washington, D.C., area. Except for the rare, unexplained case, malaria has not. We funded DDT programs to save our children. Why are we so inadequately funding programs to save Africa's children?
Carol Hooks
Chevy Chase, Md.

Why schools fear lawsuits

Regarding your May 27 article "Are schools more afraid of lawsuits than they should be?": The article left out the most insidious part of the lawsuit threat facing schools.

As educators, we certainly spend plenty of time worrying that we will be sued, and in fact many decisions and policies are enacted precisely because of concerns about potential litigation.

It is the fear of the suit itself, though, that is paralyzing - rather than any thought that we may lose the case.

The time, effort, and stress related to defending a lawsuit takes us away from our students and compromises our ability to educate young people.

At my school, we don't worry about having less money after a lawsuit; we worry about the impact that a lengthy trial will have on our practice. I take little comfort in the fact that I would probably win the trial. I would rather avoid it entirely, and this is what prompts me to keep a distance from my students (though I know that getting to know them well would promote their overall growth) and to stick to "safe" (though perhaps boring) lesson plans.
George Darden

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