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Readers Write

ID for Cigarettes? Just Obey the Law

Nowhere in all the editorials and talks, including yours, "Some ID, Please," March 7, on cigarette selling to minors, have I heard one word about the possibility of the youngsters obeying the law. I assume it is the law that no one under the age of 18 can buy cigarettes, at least it was when I was in school back in the 1930s. Were we goody-goody? My crowd never thought about buying cigarettes because we knew it was against the law, and also because everyone said they were bad for your health - even way back then.

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So why do we assume that youngsters can't obey the laws? We used to. When do they start obeying the law? When they are out of high school, or college? Or perhaps when they are 50 years old like our president and decide that in spite of the fact that the law seems stupid, they don't like it, or that "everyone does it," they had better start paying attention.

Shirley Horn

Concord, Mass.

Charter school risks

I read carefully the interview, "Proliferation of Charter Schools Signals Their Growing Success" and the book review, "A 'State of the Art' Resource About Charter Schools," March 3, because I have been aware of the Monitor's bias in support of charter schools.

I'm always interested in fuzzy thinking. Why, may I ask, must public schools be weighted down by state and district regulations if they are not good for education? Excess regulations are good for no one. To be fair, if charter schools can do without them, why not public schools, too? These articles paint charter schools as a rosy panacea for education.

The establishment of a school is extremely hard, and running it with all the demands is a struggle. Building an experienced staff is a long-term commitment. Providing students with a up-to-date and broad educational curriculum is expensive. If charter schools were a business, I would never invest in it. Too risky!

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Barbara Robinson

Grand Rapids, Mich.

Linking guns and suicide rates

In "Rise in Teen Suicides Spurs New Solutions," March 5, the author covers a very sensitive subject quite well. However, the article implies that if there were no guns in society the teen suicide rate would suddenly plummet. While this idea is quite appealing, there are a number of studies that indicate that when the rate of gun suicide falls with a reduction in gun availability, the overall suicide rate remains the same. Other equally lethal methods of suicide are used by those who are serious about taking their own lives. Gun control is often seen as a panacea but has not been shown effective anywhere.

Scot G. Douglas

Santa Ana, Calif.

Community service in education

The article, "Mandatory Community Service Withstands Legal Challenge," Feb. 24, caught my attention. Either the parents filing lawsuits weren't into what their children were doing, or they just didn't care. I had to do 30 hours of community service for graduation in the Oakridge, Ore., school district and I didn't think it was work even once. It was our own fault if it turned out to be work because it was left up to us to decide what we wanted to do. Our only restriction was the service couldn't be done for family members.

I think mandatory community service is a good idea. I witnessed the change in attitude of my classmates. This service helped "troubled" students the most. It gave them an opportunity to feel needed, and it helped them to be motivated to graduate.

I strongly urge school districts to consider making community service mandatory for graduation by giving the students a choice in how they want to serve.

Becky L. McDonald

Rexburg, Idaho

Your letters are welcome. Letters for publication must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published and none acknowledged . All letters are subject to editing. Letters should be mailed to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, faxed to 617-450-2317, or e-mailed (200 words maximum) to

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