Several weeks ago, I wrote about modern TV programs that are more sex oriented than buriesque shows used to be. The public's airwaves are now used to transmit sexual material that would have cost a station its license a couple of decades ago.
Most of the letters that have arrived in response to that column have disagreed with me. One, from a male teacher, said:
"What makes you think you can protect children from the sordid facts of life? What makes you think children don't already know the facts of life, or are any worse off for knowing them? For that matter, what makes you think you know anything about raising children or helping to shape their view of life? How many have you raised - one? I have been a teacher for 22 years and I can tell you that your views on TV sex are basically wrong."
Anne Ladof of Wilmington, Del., wrote: "I would like to comment on your position that 'sexploitation' programs should be scheduled for a later hour, when children are presumably asleep. In weak moments, I have viewed some of these programs, such as 'Three's Company' and 'Charlie's Angels,' and I agree that they are witless beyond belief - badly written, badly acted, and exploitive.
"But I really fail to see why the hours should be changed to protect the morals of the kids. For one thing, many children are allowed to spend a great part of their lives staring at the tube, no matter what the time.
Last fall, a third grade class in Virginia was asked to name their favorite television program. Half of them named, you guessed it, "Charlie's Angels,' which goes on the air at 9 p.m. and lasts an hour. That means 8 and 9-year-olds are still up at 10 p.m. I have a feeling that even if the program ran from 10 to 11 there would still be irate parents of third grade children who would complain that their precious darlings caught a glimpse of the show. Can't they just turn the television off?
"I feel that parents are the ones who have to determine what their children see. Instead of expecting the networks to do the job of raising their kids, I suggest that the parents rise from their chairs and turn the damn thing off when they want it off.
"I am 24 years old. My parents did not acquire a television until I was 10. My viewing was limited to one hour a week. Even when I was a senior in high school I had to ask permission to watch television on a school night. On weekends, my viewing was limited to two hours per day. It did not traumatize me. Furthermore, I learned to read!"
And to write, too, Anne. As one who receives many letters from people of all ages, I would say you have learned to think clearly and express your views coherently - two traits that mark you as unusual. If limited televiewing was a contributing factor in your acquisition of these skills, perhaps other parents ought to restrict the time their children are allowed to watch TV. But I doubt that many will.
These days, a parent who put such strict limits on his offspring's TV time might find himself accused of child abuse.