Letters to the Editor

Readers write about sex education, fixing student loans, and mandatory volunteerism.

Teens want to hear about abstinence – from parents

In a July 30 Opinion article – "A Truce in the Sex Ed Wars?" – the author dismissed abstinence education as ineffective because of the exhaustive research of a single report released by Mathematica Policy Research in April. In reality, the study examined just 4 of more than 900 federally funded abstinence programs. None of the four selected even included a high-school sample group. This is not unlike reading only the second paragraph of the article and declaring the whole thing to be false based on exhaustive research.

Much work remains in studying the effectiveness of both abstinence-based and comprehensive sex education programs for young people, and I applaud the article's balance in recognizing it. However, we do have compelling research indicating that teens want to hear a clear abstinence message – and they want to hear it from their parents.

Schools and communities should support parents in providing a clear abstinence message to teens. When families, schools, and communities provide teens with a consistent abstinence message, they are offering them hope for a healthy future.

Gary Rose, MD
President and CEO of the Medical Institute
Austin, Texas

Congress needs to fix student loans

In response to the July 26 article, "Rise in student debt is driving action on the Hill," tuition costs have risen to such levels that they have increased the amount of public debt. The net result will have far-reaching negative consequences in terms of the housing, automotive, and other consumer-related industries.

To primarily focus on aid and grants based upon economic status is wrong and discriminatory. This is why the Congress needs to create a comprehensive answer to this crisis – one that is inclusive and not exclusionary. One answer is to allow someone with student-loan debt to consolidate that debt with other personal debt, and thus lower monthly payments.

Additionally, this should be retroactive 20 years. I graduated 10 years ago and I am still struggling to pay off this debt. This prohibits me from contributing more to the economy, and from building equity in my home through improvements. Higher education is a Catch-22. One needs it to aspire to a career, but then one can become a slave to the creditors – no real freedom there.

Thomas Lane
Rockaway, N.J.

Why students need to volunteer

In reading the July 16 Opinion article, "Mandated volunteerism," it was obvious to me why some private schools mandate community service by their students. We live in segregated communities of haves and have-nots. Most children in private schools, including my own granddaughter, never encounter more than one or two children from a different race and no one whose family struggles to pay the monthly utility bill. My granddaughter's environment does not reflect the real world.

I volunteer with an organization that sponsors a reading and activity program for children who live in a housing project in our city. Our classes for these children are dependent on some wonderful teenagers whose Catholic school requires community-service hours. In my work with the student volunteers, I have found them to be caring, committed, funny, and upbeat. Yes, I imagine there are evenings when they would rather be doing something else, but they appear to enjoy the kids and feel they are doing something worthwhile. I know the children delight in it.

Barbara Hood
Louisville, Ky.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, www.csmonitor.com.

Mail letters to Readers Write and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to (617) 450-2317, or e-mail to OpEd.

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