A sampling of readers' letters, faxes and e-mail.

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Editor, The Times:

Sex and the brain” (Times editorial, Dec 14), (implies that) anyone who doesn’t subscribe to sex education (as opposed to abstinence education) must be ignorant of a clear “dose of reality” with the fact that “most young people are abstaining from sex.”

Well, here is a dose of reality showing why that “fact” is the case: the Centers for Disease Control survey you refer to does show that only 43 percent of our nation’s teens have ever engaged in sex. You fail to mention, however, that this decline began seven years ago, when abstinence-only programs began to really take hold. This shows that teens can abstain, they just need proper guidance and motivation.

Isn’t it obvious that when our teachers hand out condoms and teach supposed “safe sex,” the other 57 percent will start assuming it is OK to have premature sex? This is especially troubling when you consider another CDC report in 2001 showing condoms have only an 85 percent risk-reduction rate for HIV and AIDS. We are in essence telling our kids that it is OK to have sex even though there is a 15 percent risk of contracting this deadly virus.

— Tom Walker, Edmonds

Knowledge is virtue

As a researcher and educator in the field for more than 10 years, I am simply amazed that anyone would want to keep children in the dark about their bodies.

Teenagers need to know more about their own sexuality than the information we give them. Even young children want to know how their bodies work. When many parents avoid answering their innocent questions, blush, laugh or otherwise show discomfort, children soon learn to rely on other sources: friends. And now, online sources as well.

We need to equip parents to talk to their children about their bodies and the complex emotions and feelings that accompany their development. Of course, since too many parents barely know enough to understand their own bodies due to their own lack of information, it may be asking way too much of them. And that’s where highly trained and well-educated sex educators come in.

It should be noted that in places such as the Bible Belt of the South, where abstinence (until marriage) is the main message, people get married young (late teens/early 20s). And often, these states also have the highest divorce rates. After all, who wants to wait until they’re almost 30 to have sex?

— Ruth C. White, assistant professor, social work, Department of Society, Justice & Culture, Seattle University

They went too far

I have been following the debate over whether abstinence or protection is more effective in preventing STDs and unwanted pregnancies. Of course abstinence will be the most effective preventative measure, but not necessarily the most practical.

We might consider that presenting both options to teens might be a better solution than either one alone. A dose of morality concerning the rights of unborn children to be conceived in a situation where they are wanted and an organized boycott of advertisers that promote sex might also be effective. Allowing — nay, encouraging — “spying” by parents could also be a useful, and necessary, tool for parents to use to protect their children. In any human endeavor, responsibility without authority is nonsense.

We have had a generation of “children’s rights advocacy,” and it seems that we went too far in that direction, and it is time to bring the end goal of “children’s protection” back into focus. Our Legislature has to give that goal its highest priority; because without that priority, nothing else really matters.

— Charles George, Stanwood

The condemned

Fury of his peers

The sentence the jury handed down Monday is good: Scott Peterson should die for his crimes (“Peterson gets death sentence,” News, Dec. 14). However, I still feel he gets off too easy.

Life in prison without possibility of parole would have allowed his fellow inmates to hand down a fair punishment for what he did to two innocent lives. Instead, he’ll sit on Death Row, isolated from other prisoners, while his lawyers make their appeals on his behalf, for what I’m sure will be the next several years.

Too bad (Peterson’s wife and unborn son) Laci and Conner didn’t get to make their appeals before they were so brutally murdered.

— Amanda Josiah, Federal Way

Mercy calling

The death penalty is not justice and should be abolished.

In this case, it will not comfort (Laci Peterson’s family) the Rochas in the long run because it will not bring Laci and Conner back. Also, Scott Peterson’s family must live with what happened.

Scott Peterson, and others like him found guilty of heinous crimes like this, should get life in prison without the possibility of parole. This serves justice as a severe punishment. And on the slim chance that an error is discovered (to have occurred in the criminal proceeding) at some future time, the convicted can appeal for a new trial.

Executions cannot be reversed in the case of someone wrongly convicted. Executions also do nothing to ease the grief of the victims’ loved ones.

— Charles Heller, Seattle

Santa’s secret

Chucking her list

I wish to rebut Marjorie Anderson’s comments about Santa Claus being a female (“Santa maybe: And her down the chimney,” Northwest Voices, Dec. 14):

As a male, I thoroughly and completely resent her assertion that such traits as thoughtfulness, generosity, patience, attention to detail, “intuition (right gift for the right kid)… Always remembers the date… Gets lots of work done at night while the kids are asleep… ” are only female traits.

I have taken great pains to get the right gift for my son, my daughter, my nephew and my niece, not to mention my wife. I’m the one who usually remembers family birth dates of both sides of our family and I have to remind my wife of family birth dates. I’ve already finished my Christmas shopping, have all the presents assembled and wrapped under the tree and so forth, but my wife hasn’t even done hers yet.

Ms. Anderson must be meeting the wrong men if she thinks only females are capable of thoughtfulness, generosity and so forth. I think Mrs. Claus will recommend to her husband that Ms. Anderson get a stocking full of charcoal briquettes for Christmas due to her saying mean things about the male half of our species.

Ho! Ho! Ho!

— Hank Lewis, Houston, Texas

He’s missing points

To further support Marjorie Anderson’s theory that Santa is a girl, it would only make perfect sense that all her reindeer are females, too, as Snopes (“Urban Legends Reference Pages”) pointed out in its Web site (www.snopes.com. ).

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, both male and female reindeer grow antlers in the summer each year (the only members of the deer family, Cervidae, to do so). Male deer drop theirs at the beginning of winter, usually late November to mid-December. Females retain theirs until after they give birth in the spring.

Therefore, according to every historical rendition depicting Santa’s reindeer, every single one of them, from Rudolph to Blitzen, had to be a girl.

We should’ve known that, when they were able to find their way.

— Lorna Schofield, Mount Lake Terrace