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News Opinion Readers Respond

The arts can help heal troubled young people

After the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, what's needed is more gun control, according to columnist Dan Rodricks ("The massacre this time," Dec. 15). Yet a story in the same edition described a man in China who used a knife to attack some 20 children. The problem is not the weapon, but the troubled young men who wield them.

It is a daunting, if not impossible task for psychiatrists, psychologists and others to take the first step in situations where even parents are frustrated and helpless in dealing with a troubled child.

Many years ago in a publication about the arts, I read a quote I will never forget: "The arts are the most civilizing of all disciplines." Yet, the curriculum in our schools emphasizes math and science.

Do we need math and science? Of course we do. But why exclude the arts — the very disciplines which civilize? Art, dance, music and theater involve the intellect and the emotions of the whole person. Yet, we are denying boys and girls the very experiences that not only help "civilize" them, but also to improve their brain.

When will legislators and educators recognize the error of eliminating arts from the curriculum? Isn't it worth returning the arts to the classroom as "civilizing disciplines" and possibly reduce the number of troubled young people?

Kathleen Marie Engers

The writer is founder of the Pumpkin Theatre in Baltimore.

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