Child exploitation is not consensualI was shocked and...


March 18, 1997

Child exploitation is not consensual

I was shocked and disappointed by the March 11 story of an incident involving the sexual misuse of a 14-year-old child by a 44-year-old school custodian.

To describe this incident as an ''affair'' and a ''middle of the night tryst'' misrepresents it and implies that a 14-year-old is capable of entering a consensual sexual relationship with a man three times her age.

True consent implies an informed decision between two people who are more or less equal in knowledge, experience and maturity. While sex between an adult and child might appear consensual due to lack of force, this is never the case.

Child exploiters rarely use force to gain sexual access, using instead skillful manipulation, capitalizing on the trust, power and authority implicitly held in their relationship with the child.

Maryland law recognizes the nature of such relationships,making sex between adults and children a felony.

The Sun's coverage of this sad situation not only misinforms the public but further traumatizes a child who has already been exploited.

Kristina Debye


The writer is coordinator of sexual abuse treatment for the Baltimore County Department of Social Services.

Buildings are part of city's heritage

Our vacant, mostly historic, houses constitute not only the most serious housing challenge in Baltimore, but represent Maryland's most significant historic preservation challenge and opportunity as well.

It is unrealistic to think that we can save and rehabilitate all vacant buildings. But before we embark on any strategic solutions which are intended to be comprehensive, we must better identify how many vacants there are, where they are, and try to better understand why they have become vacant. We should, to the maximum feasible extent, preserve and rehabilitate those buildings and communities which are most significant to our shared history and architectural heritage. The solutions will vary from community to community.

Study after study has proven that rehabilitation generates significantly more jobs than an equal amount of new construction, with more direct benefits to the local economy. In a city like Baltimore, where tourism is our biggest industry next to health care and heritage tourism is the fastest growing component of tourism nationwide, we would be foolish to indiscriminately demolish our heritage resources.

Bill Pencek


The writer is president of Baltimore Heritage.

Greed seen as cause of cuts

In your March 8 article, "Hospital costs in Maryland rise 4.5%," I found the statement that hospitals were concerned about the quality of patient care tragically laughable. As a practicing registered nurse for over 20 years, I have seen that the quality of patient care is no longer the No. 1 priority of hospital administration.

A large Baltimore hospital was recently told by an outside consultant group to cut the nursing staff in some areas as much as 20 percent. Hospital administration was shown that admissions and ambulance visits were up 20 percent and warned that cutting the nursing staff would greatly impact the quality of patient care.

There was no concern on their part that there would be any negative effect on patient outcomes. I was told, "We want you to take calculated risks."

I scoffed when I read that hospitals were using quality of patient care as a first defense against not being allowed a rate increase. How can they expect the public, especially the nursing public, not to recognize their true goal -- greed.

Dawn P. Schoenfeld

Forest Hill

Does cloning threaten Lords of the Universe?

Cloning is not new but is new in mammals.

It is a matter of curiosity to me that the citizenry consistently objects to new scientific methods for generating or healing life, raising ethical and theological debate. Yet seldom, if ever, is there ethical or theological questioning in regard to scientific advances in ways to destroy life or the quality of life.

Pat Robertson's God might well say that man is using science in unacceptable ways. But the God I know would certainly be more disturbed at the destruction of creation than in tinkering with the ways it is produced.

The egg is a creation of God as is the sperm. That a new physical creature is generated without benefit of sperm is most likely not a source of concern to the creator but to males of the human kind, who for millennia have considered themselves Lords of the Universe.

M. Angela Callahan


Loan description called unbalanced

I am disappointed at the lack of balance in The Sun's March 2 article, "Student loans generate profits."

Rather than provide your readers with an impartial comparison of the Federal Family Education Loan Program and the Federal Direct Loan Program, your article merely repeats well-worn criticism sparked by a taxpayer-funded campaign to kill FFELP.

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