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An Insidious Influence

October 15, 2000

Dennis Prager's assessment of the media's influence on children ("Our Kids' Innocence, Unprotected," Oct. 1) did not mention that most Americans today equate legality with morality: "If it's legal, it's OK and I have a right to it."

The curtailing of smoking in this country did not begin by any means with self-regulation, but with the surgeon general's warning. Self-regulation by the motion picture industry, however preferable, is not likely without some form of public sanction.

The surgeon general had empirical proof of the effects of smoking. The insight that the media is causing violence to children has not been similarly validated. Yet incontrovertible proof must be just around the corner, because the violence is.

THE REV. THEODORE C. LEY

Associate Pastor,

Maria Regina Church, Gardena

*

I could not agree more with Dennis Prager. I have the unique perspective of being a child and adolescent therapist, and what I have observed over the 19 years I have been treating kids is quite alarming.

Children who are exposed to sexual images too young develop a warped perspective of sex. They get physiologically turned on by the images they see but they don't have the maturity to connect these feelings with emotional intimacy. This leads to sexual acting out, viewing themselves as a sex object, and objectifying others.

Maybe people are not too worried about these consequences, but we should be. Children who have been victims of "media molestation" might end up molesting a younger child, and it could be your child.

What is it going to take for people to pay attention to one of our prime responsibilities: guarding a child's innocence?

CHRISTINE CHU

Claremont

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