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Horror in the Classroom

October 27, 1987

As a professor who teaches courses in child development, I am deeply concerned by your report (Oct. 3) that a violent horror film was shown to a class of second-graders at Hamlin Street Elementary School in Canoga Park. The psychological effects on children of exposure to the vivid terror, cruelty and death in this film (which I have seen) may be profound and long-lasting.

The children's parents are correct in challenging the judgment of the teacher at fault, who claims to have been unaware of the nature of the film. This excuse misses the point, which is that a teacher must never leave a class unsupervised, particularly a class of very young children. Their lives could be at risk from many threats during that 90-minute to two-hour period. What kind of a teacher pops an unseen videotape into a VCR so that she can leave her students alone and do something else? What subject "lesson plan" was this teacher following? School administrators should not try to excuse this episode, but instead should listen to the indignant parents, who have every good reason to question this teacher's notions about careful supervision of children and about providing quality education.

STEVEN L. GORDON

Sherman Oaks

Gordon is a professor of sociology at California State University, Los Angeles.

On Santa Clarita Cityhood

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