Condoms can work and teen-agers need to know how
In response to the letter "Abstinence is the only real protection for teen-agers" (April 25), we at Planned Parenthood of Maryland understand that condoms are an effective, inexpensive form of birth control, proven as such since the 16th century.
Contrary to the figures the letter cited, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has put condoms' actual breakage rate at a mere two per 100. And a recent study of couples in which one partner was HIV positive yielded only a 2 percent rate of infection, with correct and consistent condom use.
A World Health Organization review of 19 studies found no evidence that sexuality education programs, which may include access to contraception, lead to earlier or increased teen-age sexual activity.
Studies also show that other Western industrialized countries have lower rates of unintended pregnancy, teen-age pregnancy and abortion than we do.
Those countries show greater openness in frankly discussing sexuality. As a result, sexually active teenagers have the support they need to make responsible choices and much better access to and use of contraceptives.
Although abstaining from sexual intercourse is the most effective way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, the average age of first intercourse in the United States is 16 years old, and 66 percent of high school students have intercourse before they graduate.
A majority of teenagers are choosing not to abstain from sexual intercourse. They need accurate information about contraceptives, including where to obtain them and how to use them.
The writer is president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Maryland.
Raising taxes on beer wouldn't affect consumption
The Sun recently ran an article about a study suggesting that increasing the cost of cheap beer prices by 20 cents could decrease gonorrhea among the young by up to nine percent ("CDC says higher beer tax would reduce sexual disease," April 28).
I have worked in an inner-city liquor store for the past 12 years, and in my experience a tax increase serves one purpose: to make local government happy.
The "working stiff" who buys cheap beer will budget 20 more cents from an already over taxed paycheck, the "winos" will beg 20 more cents and the younger generation will continue to buy the imports and higher-priced "yuppie" beers.
Has the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention done a study to find out if increasing the cost of illegal intravenous drugs will decrease the spread of HIV and hepatitis?
Focus on housing market could further city's renewal
I encourage The Sun to write more positive stories about the rebound in the Baltimore housing market and believe the pairing neighborhoods idea could be an excellent start to improving housing value and neighborhoods citywide ("Pairing Neighborhoods," editorial, April 24 and "Existing home sales go down, prices up in city, 2 counties," April 11).
I am a runner and as I run through Federal Hill, Canton and Fells Point, I see positive signs of revitalization. In-fill townhomes are being built everywhere.
There are developments just completed in Canton, homes in Fells Point under construction with more planned and homes being constructed on Hamburg Street near the PSINet Stadium.
These homes seem to be selling fast and it would be interesting to get an idea of what the new townhomes in Baltimore are offering as far as space and amenities.
With these housing projects, there's a sense of excitement about the city. I believe a comprehensive article on these new projects and the many others planned might spread that excitement and get people interested in moving to the city.
David L. Washington
A big thumbs-up for new music critic
The Sun's "new hire" for reporting on classical music, Tim Smith, is a gem.
From his article "Let yourself be seduced by opera" (April 30), it appears Mr. Smith not only has a good grasp of classical music but, more important, knows how to write about it.
Richard L. Lelonek
Exhibit, column recalled the pleasures of Dundalk
The Sun's article reviewing the photography exhibit at the Community College of Baltimore County at Dundalk was a great pleasure ("Thinking outside the Dundalk box," OpinionCommentary, April 23).
It was my calling to live and practice medicine in Dundalk for more than three decades. I have such fond memories of treating so many kind, caring, and appreciative families through the years.
Seeing this exhibition warmed my heart and made me realize my good fortune.
'Pier police' don't storm private Maryland vessels
The recent letter "Boats have no protection against warrantless searches" (April 30) does not tell the whole story, and may cause undue apprehension.
What the letter says is in essence correct. But in Maryland waters such as the Chesapeake Bay, the Coast Guard rarely flexes any muscle, so to speak, and mostly deals with commercial vessels, tankers and container ships.
Furthermore, any vessel used as a domicile receives the same Fourth Amendment protection any residence would.
Boaters should not fear that the "pier police" will come crashing into their vessels "at will" and without cause. It just will not happen.
The "War on Drugs" must have some teeth, if we are to "take a bite out of crime." But those teeth still follow the law.
The writer is a retired officer in the Maryland Natural Resources Police .
Police deserved praise for handling of Palczynski
The recent letter "Did police need to shoot Palczynski -- 27 times?" (April 23) implies that the police overreacted and the 12-year-old hostage could have been harmed by their actions.
The men and women who serve the Baltimore County police are highly trained professionals, who are prepared to take swift, decisive action that minimizes any further loss of life.
I commend those police officers for their well-organized, safe and successful conclusion to the Palczynski standoff.
Remarkable toenail clipper could make inmates a bundle
Unbelievable! Utterly fantastic! Five inmates cutting through a chain link fence at the House of Correction with toenail clippers ("Alert guards foil an escape attempt at House of Correction Annex in Jessup," April 27).
For years, I've been looking for toenail clippers strong enough to cut the tough old nail on my big toes. Nothing works well, even when I soak my feet in hot water for a spell first.
Maybe these inmates can now get rich marketing their device. It could be worth the extra two years they'll have added to their sentences for attempted escape.
What a slogan: "Our toenail clippers will cut through a chain-link fence."
I'm interested. Let me know when the inmates launch their initial publicoffering.
J. Edward Muhlbach
New Freedom, Pa.