Will prosecuting older men protect girls against abuse...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

February 14, 2000

Will prosecuting older men protect girls against abuse?

Prosecuting older men who have sex with girls who have not even reached the age of 16 would not just reduce the pregnancy rate in Maryland ("Md. looks to rape laws to cut teen birth rates," Feb. 5).

More important, it would stop many young ladies from being used and abused by so-called men who view children as sex objects to be exploited.

Regardless how physically developed these young women may be, they still have the mind of a child -- which is what makes them easy prey for older men.

In my opinion, any man who would have sex with a child needs to be locked up.

This might not eliminate the teen-age pregnancy problem. But it would go a long way toward getting many sick men off the streets, and protecting our children.

Murphy Edward Smith, Baltimore

The Sun's recent article on statutory rape demonstrated one of the more curious paradoxes of our time: We vilify lawyers yet we seem to trust only the courts to solve all social problems.

The solution to teen-age pregnancy is to throw fathers in jail. The solution to drug addiction is to throw addicts in jail. The solution to everything is prosecution.

Our legal system provides no justice. To rely on it to solve all social problems is absurd.

Angela Callahan, Baltimore

Sending mixed messages on teens, sex and pregnancy

The Sun's Feb. 5 issue sent a mixed message to Marylanders.

On the front page was an article titled "Md. hopes rape laws can cut teen birth rates." At the same time, on the first page of the Today section was a warm and fuzzy article about an unmarried 19-year-old giving birth to triplets ("Oh, baby, baby, baby"). This was her second set of triplets in 20 months.

It is not The Sun's role to deliver the message to teen-agers that it's not such a good idea to get pregnant before getting married.

But glorifying the birth of three more Americans to an unwed teen-ager is not going to help anybody.

It is an atrocity for babies to be born to children who are neither prepared nor capable of raising a child in today's world. When is anyone going to step forward and speak out against teen pregnancy and put an end to this nonsense?

The article on statutory rape suggests that the answer lies somewhere in our legal system. But a legally based solution will only serve to employ more lawyers.

May I suggest we look at other solutions such as family values, peer pressure and tough love. They are less expensive than prosecution, and much more effective, given an opportunity.

Jay Leatherbury, Catonsville

A heritage group dedicated to honoring their ancestors

Following my recent letter, "South Carolina's flag isn't `Stars and Bars'" (Jan. 31), that chastised Gregory Kane for careless research regarding the flags of the Confederate States of America and suggesting that such poor scholarship lent little weight to his opinions on our flags, Mr. Kane chose to make me and the Sons of Confederate Veterans the focus of his column, "Little honor lies in historic use of the Confederate flag" (Feb. 2).

Mr. Kane asked, in summary: Where was the Sons of Confederate Veterans in the 1950s and 1960s when various racist elements other than the Ku Klux Klan were misusing the Confederate battle flag?

This is a fair question.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans is not a civil rights or political organization. That is not our function. We are a hereditary heritage society.

This means each member has at least one Confederate ancestor whose memory we are dedicated to honoring and preserving.

In addition, during the period questioned by Mr. Kane, the SCV had only about 2,000 members.

It was in no position financially, or otherwise, to mount a public relations campaign on the misuse of the flag.

G. Elliott Cummings, Baltimore

The writer is a past Commander of the Maryland Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans .

Tougher law enforcement is the way to stop violence

I would like to commend The Sun for the article "Tough gun law, timid enforcement" (Jan. 30).

Law-abiding gun owners, sportsmen and women have been saying it for years: If you want to stop gun crime, punish the criminals.

Many of the politicians who are lawyers are the same plea-bargainers who let criminals off.

They then use the gun issue as a platform to get elected to office.

Maybe their plea-bargaining records should be made public, so people would know how many times their elected officials were responsible for putting a criminal back on the streets.

As long as criminals know they can get off with a light, plea-bargained sentence, or no sentence at all, gun violence will never end.

Before you take away the rights of law abiding citizens, punish the criminals to the full extent of the law.

Kit H. Jaracy, Ellicott City

What an event! The Sun was so soundly struck by a blinding flash of the obvious, that it now supports Project Exile.

It now actually believes that enforcing existing laws will have an impact on crime (It's past the time for a crackdown on guns," editorial, Feb. 6).

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