Readers Write 1/30

PARENTING

It’s a shame that people are actually debating parenting methods that are aimed at sculpting the minds and habits of children toward excellence. Has anyone noticed the sharp decline in excellence in our children, as well as an alarming lack of respect for themselves and others? Being a parent is not easy (and hardly anything worthwhile is), so don’t expect to follow the “feel good” critics of strict discipline for advice on raising your kids if you want them to grow up truly happy with themselves.

Liberty is not free, and it tastes better than anything that is.

Chris Henson, Smyrna

DATING VIOLENCE

Help young people form healthy relationships

February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, an observance dedicated to talking about and preventing teen dating violence and abuse.

According to a survey sponsored by Liz Claiborne Inc., nearly one in three teens who have been in a dating relationship have experienced sexual abuse, physical abuse or threats of physical harm. Technology frequently exacerbates this problem (thanks to cell phones and social networking sites), and digital dating abuse is reaching epidemic proportions.

One goal of National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month is to raise awareness of the critical need for teens to be educated (in school and at home) about these issues. Parents need to be educated about how to start these important, potentially life-saving conversations with their children.

I am urging every middle school and high school in Georgia to educate our youth about how to form healthy, abuse-free relationships. I am also urging parents, teens and the public to talk about these important issues.

We all have a responsibility to educate today’s youth about healthy relationships, and how to prevent dating abuse. For more information, visit loveisnotabuse.com

Shalanda Moten, state action leader, Love Is Not Abuse Coalition

EDUCATION

Integrity, character sorely lacking at APS

Regarding “Whistle-blowing teachers targeted” (News, Jan. 23): How do you make a school cheating scandal worse? Easy. Punish and harass those teachers reporting the problem.

Instead of confirming stories of impropriety and seeking immediate resolution, leadership at Atlanta Public Schools chose a tactic of ignoring the issue, coupled with deception and retaliation.

That there is currently no procedure in place to protect honest teachers trying to right a wrong is unconscionable. This mentality and management start at the top and filter down.

Integrity, character and leadership are sorely needed at APS, and it’s blatantly apparent those qualities are currently lacking. Changes must immediately be made to protect the future of the students. Michael L. Shaw, Stone Mountain

Ultimatums can’t fix incompetence of APS

Regarding “School board members must grow up or get out” (Opinion, Jan. 23): The members of the Atlanta Board of Education did not make a conscious decision to be incompetent. No one does. An ultimatum from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is not going to transform them into a capable group.

It is analogous to trying to cajole a diabetic into producing insulin. It can’t be done.

Gerson Paull, Atlanta

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

No objections to success of Georgia’s drug courts

Drug courts sound like “no brainers” (“Positive verdict on drug courts,” Metro, Jan. 23). They help rehabilitate rather than incarcerate. They may save people and families. They have saved the state millions. Those sent to prison (rather than drug courts) were more than four times as likely to commit future felonies.

Drug courts are saving both people and money. Who can argue against that?

William Elsea, Atlanta

ETHICS

Should have known this trip was a no-no

I guess I would not expect House Speaker David Ralston to report that his lobbyist-paid trip to Europe to learn about rail travel there was not “helpful.” But this trip should have been paid for out of his state budget or his own, not by a lobbyist. He and staffer Spiro Amburn should have paid for their family members themselves.

If the rail line between Atlanta and Chattanooga gets funded, Commonwealth Research Associates stand to profit. That fact alone should have advised Ralston that he needed to distance himself from any suggestion of influence peddling. But he excused himself because he “didn’t want to be away from his family at Thanksgiving.” That is a transparent excuse for ignoring ethical behavior.

What happens to seemingly decent people when they get into elected positions?

Linda Stapleton, Atlanta

SUNDAY SALES

Anti-liquor arguments too often ham-handed

Finally, there is some sane, rational discussion about the allowance of alcoholic beverage sales on Sunday.

I’ve yet to hear a convincing argument as to why this state should allow an antiquated, religion-based law to continue holding people hostage who don’t share those convictions. I’m somewhat convinced that most of the people who want to keep the Sunday ban don’t even know why they want to keep it.

It kind of reminds me of the old story about the woman who cut off the ends of the ham before baking it. When asked why she did this, she said that her mother had always done it, and her mother’s mother always did it. Eventually, the woman found out that her great-great grandmother cut the ends off the ham because her oven was too small.

David Russell, Atlanta