DEAR BETH: Your response to a letter from a 14-year-old girl who was upset because her stepfather punished her by making her take down her pants and spanking her missed the most important point. No 14-year-old girl should be forced to pull down her pants in front of anyone, let alone an adult male. At 14, she is very mature and entitled to her privacy. Therefore what her step-father is doing is way out of line! In fact, it borders on sexual abuse. -- AN OFFICE IN SUPPORT OF CHILDREN'S RIGHTS
[Beth's reply:] You are absolutely right. However, I don't agree with those who think this stepfather is a pedophile. Rather, he believes a so-called good old-fashioned spanking is the proper way for parents to teach kids. It is not. There is too much violence in our world and it is important to try to stop it, especially in homes when there's physical abuse of kids. Sexual abuse would, of course, be equally despicable, and probably more damaging. I thank all who wrote me to point out the threat of physical abuse here.