EHT drug assembly

took wrong approach

I am a senior at Egg Harbor Township High School, and on April 22 we were treated to two back-to-back assemblies. One was on the dangers of drugs, presented by a female Philadelphia police officer. With the growing heroin problem in South Jersey, it makes sense to bring in someone with some real experience in the horrors of that drug and others like it. I, for one, was excited to hear about the assembly, as drug addiction in New Jersey is a very real issue.

However, those feelings quickly gave way to disappointment and anger as the presentation transformed into a "scared straight" type program, including grotesque pictures of dead bodies, excessive yelling, even screaming at the students, and wild exaggerations. At one point, the officer even brought out a body bag.

The officer made some fairly wild claims, such as 70 percent of marijuana is laced with hard drugs like crack or heroin - a claim that I have been unable to find reliable sources to support.

I am not here to argue about the legalization of marijuana, but studies have shown that using overly exaggerated claims and scare tactics in drug-abuse prevention only hurts the anti-drug movement. The best way to prevent the spread of drug abuse in New Jersey is to tell the kids like it is and not to lie to them.

Also, provide easily accessible treatment and counseling for those who need help. Treat addicts like sick people, not second-class citizens who should be put on display and looked at with disgust.

TYLER LOGES

Egg Harbor Township

Circus elephant

was sad to see

Regarding the April 24 story and photo, "A.C. mayor bests pachyderm in Monopoly":

As a child, I was taken to the circus. I must admit to being terrified that the tigers would get loose and eat me. Today, I feel only sadness that these tigers, elephants, etc., are subjected to virtual imprisonment and cruelty (regardless of the circus' so-called humane treatment).

In the April 24 photo, Mayor Don Guardian plays Monopoly against Duchess, an elephant from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Although she is unchained for the picture, her leg is most likely chained to the ground at all other times when she is not caged or performing. Chained elephants rock continuously out of boredom and frustration.

And note her left ear. It has been shredded by an elephant hook, a device used to "train" the animal. To see this intelligent, emotion-feeling animal "play" Monopoly is an embarrassment, and Guardian's participation endorses this ongoing debacle.

HELEN J. SEMRAU

Manahawkin

Obama raised debt

by $6.7 trillion

Regarding the April 14 letter, "Dems decreased deficit; Republicans increased it":

The following paints an entirely different picture: U.S. government debt has increased $6.7 trillion since President Barack Obama took office on Jan. 1, 2009, going from $10.6 trillion to $17.3 trillion, according to the U.S. Bureau of the Public Debt. That's an increase of more than 63 percent since Obama took office.

FRED LAURENZO

Little Egg Harbor Township

Immigration reform

will benefit the U.S.

During the past several months, the Latino Cultural Association coordinated the efforts of concerned citizens, community organizations, members of Catholic, evangelical and Pentecostal churches and representatives of UNITE HERE Local 54 to obtain support for immigration reform to help keep our families together.

On April 15, we had the opportunity to meet with Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd, and handed him more than 3,000 signatures from people who are convinced that comprehensive immigration reform can help improve the economy of our county and state.

We understand the issue of immigration is very complex and that it has turned into a political issue instead of being a social and economic issue. This situation has resulted in an incorrect and negative perception toward immigrants by some sectors of our society. But our current immigration system is dysfunctional, and it needs to be corrected as soon as possible, so we can benefit from the inventive and creative force that immigrants have brought to our economy.

Immigration has been fundamental in the development of the American way of life. The integration of new residents is important to guarantee a stable future for all of us. This can be accomplished if the government and the private sector work together to promote a necessary infrastructure where different cultural groups of our society can have a sense of belonging.

We are grateful that Rep. LoBiondo was receptive to our ideas and agreed to continue communicating with us and looking for ways of working together.

HECTOR A. RIVERA

President

Latino Cultural Association

Mays Landing