I was appalled to read two recent articles in The Post about adults who sexually molest children. The first article reported the story of a former janitor who was convicted of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in a synagogue {Metro, Nov. 30}. He received a sentence of three years in prison.

The second news article reported the story of John Tippett, who was charged with sexual molestation of an 8-year-old boy {Metro, Dec. 1}. Mr. Tippett received a sentence of five years in prison with all but 90 days suspended, and those 90 days will be served in his home.

Why are these penalties so light? When are crimes against children going to carry as much weight as crimes against adults? There have been many single-incident rape convictions in the past year involving victims over the age of 18. The majority of those convictions carry sentences of five or more years. Yet, abusers who repeatedly sexually molest children receive sentences that range from weekends in jail to in-home incarceration.

The State's Attorney's offices in the Washington metropolitan area appear to be bringing an increasing number of child sexual molesters to court. However, these efforts are pointless unless significantly stricter sentencing guidelines are established for crimes against children.

Judges need to be informed that the general public is appalled at the release of these dangerous people. At a recent conference on child abuse in Anne Arundel County, a local law enforcement agent stated that a sexual molester of children will average 250 victims in his/her lifetime. The majority of molesters are never caught, and the majority of the ones caught are not prosecuted.

Early childhood education also needs to be provided to members of the bench if they are going to continue listening to the testimony of young children. An earlier article in The Post about the Tippett case described a 5-year-old's testimony regarding the concept of time and the value of numbers {Metro, Nov. 1}. The defense attorney appeared to prove that the child was uncertain of how many times she was molested and when the molestations occurred. Early childhood research has found that children do not develop a good sense of the passage of time or the value of numbers until 7 or 8 years of age. Disregarding the child's testimony was a glaring example of the judge's ignorance.

We teach our two children that if someone touches them in a way they don't like they are to tell an adult whom they trust. What is the point of putting children through the distress of disclosure and testimony in court if the sentencing guidelines continue to allow judges the freedom to give ridiculously lenient sentences? DEBORAH FREY Bowie

The writer teaches early childhood classes at Charles County Community College.