Congratulations Kurt Eichenwald, writer of yesterday’s front-page New York Times article about how a thirteen-year-old California youth became ensnared in child pornography and then prostitution through his own family’s sad disconnectedness and a web cam. This article will no doubt be talked about for weeks.

The article made me feel so sad for children today. And it came on the heels of a conversation I had recently with another hovering, chattering mom, in which I learned that some young girls are now giving oral sex to boys, in open, public performance, at parties and on school buses.

Remember this, and tell your kids: We are, as a people, products of what we see, what we eat, and the friends we surround ourselves with. And we are letting our children see, eat, and do too much that is toxic. This particular subject is high on my list right now because I know that Roger Shattuck, the Proust scholar and a beloved professor I studied with at the University of Virginia, died last week in Lincoln, Vermont. In books like “Forbidden Knowledge,” he articulated his lifelong specialty and focus–the discernment of what in life and literature was of quality, and what was garbage. Shattuck felt that the violent, kinky writings of the Marquis de Sade, for instance, should not be included in the literary canon of college students. To me, that’s a no-brainer (though I recall reading some Sade in college myself).

Here’s a link to a radio interview with Shattuck on just this subject,
and another link to Shattuck hashing out literary complexities with a time-pressured David Gergen on PBS’s The News Hour. Shattuck was a gorgeous man in every way (it didn’t hurt that his speaking voice resembled Gregory Peck’s).

In sum: Feed your children well, surround them with beautiful things. And check behind your family computer terminal for hidden web cameras! This kid profiled by the Times fooled his mom for years. I guess she just never dusted back there.

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