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Teaching Children Values Amidst the Supply and Demand for Drugs

Regarding Rushworth Kidder's Perspectives column ``Drug Strategy in an `Ethical Fairyland,''' Sept. 18: I've always felt drug abuse is a symptom of deeper problems of personal development. Thank you for articulating and supporting this concept. Personally, I'd rather spend those hours I work that go toward taxes to fund the drug war at home with my daughter working on right and wrong. If more parents would do the same, I'd feel more confident that today's children would be able to face the inevitable presence of drugs with good judgment.

Also, strengthening the military sector of Colombia is wrong. Colombia does not have the long tradition of democracy that the US has, and its government has fewer safeguards against the military gaining unjust power. US antidrug efforts should not include putting guns on the streets amidst families of other countries. Jane Conlon, Ashland, Mass.

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Mr. Kidder talks about the problem with teaching ethics, and the moral stature of the public at large. Kids are not into intellectual discussions on behavior. Right and wrong are intuitive values. We embrace them early on. That doesn't mean we conquer wrong and embrace right with consistency, but we know the difference. Talking to kids about drugs requires a forceful and consistent rendering of the behavior expected.

Today rationalization is in and action is out. Rights are in and laws are out. Courts are in and parents are out. Feel good is in and discipline is out. And society is littered with the consequences. Bill Comley, Dunwoody, Ga.

I agree with Mr. Kidder, but I take issue with his inference that alcohol produces wife-beating and poverty produces child abuse. It is a myth that wife-beating and child abuse occur only in the homes of alcoholics, drug abusers, and poor people. Family violence crosses all socio-economic lines. While substance abuse is frequently present, it is an excuse for unethical behavior by an individual with a values problem who gets away with a crime the community does not unequivocally condemn.

Myths of cause and effect fail to place moral responsibility on the abuser and everyone who looks the other way. Linda Osmundson, Gainesville, Fla.

The opinion-page column ``Shut Off the Drug Lords' Money Spigot,'' Sept. 19, decries the fact that the US government can only do so much legally to stop the incoming flow of illegal drugs. The Bush administration has declared war on all illegal drugs. Such leadership is certainly needed in order to quell mankind's current scourge. But until President Bush and Congress cease quibbling over deficits and decide to seriously address this issue, all of the field operatives in the world won't be able to make a hole in the supply and demand for illegal drugs. Warren T. Moore, Pensacola, Fla.

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