Does legalizing prostitution send the right message?

Regarding the May 11 article "Rethinking a legal sex trade": I don't think legalizing the sex trade solves anything. It sends the message that people should not learn to control themselves. It sends the message that marriage isn't a valued and protected institution. Also, it increases the distance between what is lawful to do and what is right to do. Shouldn't laws prohibit what is wrong to do?
Michaela Stephens
Chandler, Ariz.

Thank you for drawing attention to the failures of prostitution legalization around the world. However I'm disappointed that the groundbreaking Swedish law criminalizing solicitation was misrepresented.

Sweden decided that the common crime of prostitution is not a victimless crime but is in fact quite physically and mentally destructive to women and children without options other than sexual submission to predatory men.

The key strategy of the new Swedish model, omitted from the article, is that Sweden has directed all criminal penalties at the men who create the demand for prostituted bodies and does not view prostitutes as criminals anymore.

This policy addressing prostitution as women experience it (harmful, humiliating, violent) instead of how men experience it (harmless, entertaining, pleasurable) is a revolutionary moment in the history of the women's movement.
S.M. Berg
CoFounder and Chair of SHAG, Sexual Health Activist Group
Portland, Ore.

Where pop culture fits with children

Regarding the May 6 article "New 'mommy wars': a fight against pop culture's excess": I am a 57-year-old mother of three teens, ages 18, 16, and 13, who have been raised on "Cosmos," "Star Trek," "The Simpsons," "60 Minutes," and recently PBS's "Now," along with wide-ranging philosophical discussions at the family dinner table. "Cosmos" and "Star Trek" teach humanism and wonder; "The Simpsons," a healthy skepticism; and "60 Minutes" and "Now," knowledge of what really is going on.

Pop culture is not an issue in our house, and never has been. It is simply discounted. My kids know advertising when they see it. I have compassionate, intelligent, talented children who can play Brahms and Villa-Lobos, and more likely than not are listening to Broadway shows and Riverdance on their iPods.
Karen Murtaugh
Corona del Mar, Calif.

My "Mom's Club" discusses this topic often. We feel we are in a constant, daily battle with the popular media; even our local newspaper which now regularly publishes front-page articles that would make most parents of young children cringe.

When one of my son's teachers asked him and the other students to do a writing project regarding the local newspaper, I had to censor about half of that day's issue because of items I did not think appropriate for my 8-year-old to read about yet. We took the TV out of our family room (which is adjacent to our kitchen), had bookshelves built, and filled them with books.

Now we see the children reading much more spontaneously and often than before. The playroom TV is hardly ever watched unless it's family movies (we subscribe only to basic cable - no movie channels, not even Nickelodeon).

My teen can watch age-appropriate movies or games when the younger ones are not there. There are no TV's or computers in the children's bedrooms. In addition, our family computer has parental controls and is in a central location (the study), where all activity is closely monitored.
Mariann Davies
Doylestown, Pa.

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