updated 11/14/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/14/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

Correspondents were moved, dismayed and angered by our report on teenage pregnancy in America (PEOPLE, Oct. 24). Many who wrote are, or were, teenage mothers who expressed support and understanding for the young women we profiled. Others called them irresponsible and lamented what they perceive as the tattered state of America's moral fabric.

I was once again struck by the fact that in spite of all the gains of the women's movement, we have not been able to produce a generation of young women who do not think that they get their social status from their boyfriends and who are not pressured into having sex in order to maintain those relationships. We are miserably failing our daughters if we are unable to convince them that their lives have value apart from these hormone-driven sweet talkers and that it is essential to their well-being and that of their potential children to say "no" to sex until they are capable of being responsible and self-sufficient parents.
SHARYN S. THOMPSON, Bentleyville, Pa.

From the instant I laid eyes on your cover, I felt like throwing up, and nothing I read relieved my nausea. The bottom line seems to be: lousy parenting begets lousy parenting begets lousy parenting. I, for one, am sick of subsidizing other people's parental mistakes.

What high school math class taught Lenny Armenta that it was less expensive to raise a child for 18 years than to shell out $3.69 for three condoms once or twice a week?

It is time to revive the devastating social stigma once associated with out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Long ago when America taught morality and self-respect to its children, fear and shame were powerful contraceptives. If society continues to passively condone indiscriminate sexual behavior and illegitimate births as part of the "new" American fabric, this once great nation is doomed to chaos and collapse.
CLAUDIA CASALE-MAST, Pleasantville, N.Y.

Your cover story does a disservice to women, science and sexuality. Amy Smith is 17—at least five years into adulthood. To call anyone under 18 a baby is to extend the definition of infancy to ridiculous lengths. Childhood ends at puberty. Can't everyone recognize that the rights and responsibilities of adulthood begin then and start educating young people appropriately?
VICTOR KOMAN, Fountain Valley, Calif.

My wife and I intend to save this issue for our daughters for that special conversation when they become teenagers in another seven or so years. We hope it will reinforce our old-fashioned moralistic teachings. You should send your reporters to do a follow-up article every five years on these parents and children. It would be interesting to see if they have truly wised up.
PAUL CARIGNAN, Norwalk, Conn.

Now how about a special report covering 24 hours in the lives of angry taxpayers who are fed up with their hard-earned dollars going to support these irresponsible teenagers and their kids?
SUSAN R. NEWMAN, New York City

As adoptive parents my husband and I were sorely disappointed that your article did not include a birth mother who chose adoption. Our beloved 3-year-old has adoring, mature, happily married parents. Her birth mother's decision was a selfless and loving act.
ANNE TIERNEY, Piano, Texas

I gave my daughter up for adoption when I was 17 and a senior in high school, and I believe we are both living the best possible lives because of it. I am now in college studying engineering, and she is living in a stable, healthy home. Although she is not physically in my life, she will always be a part of it.

I got pregnant in 1967 when I was 16 years old. Back then a girl couldn't go to school in that condition, so my family got special permission for me to attend through first-semester exams. I'll never forget the jeers, the snickering and the gossip as I struggled to attend classes amid terrible morning sickness. I graduated with my class and was on the honor roll. I raised my son as a single parent—I married the father of my baby but it didn't last, though we remain good friends—and, yes, it was difficult but not impossible. I'm 43 years old, and my son is 26. I thought in 1967 that I had created such an overwhelming problem. Little did I know that I had created the best friend I would ever have in my lifetime.
JO TYSON ORRELL, Greenville, N.C.

I was disappointed when I saw the cover of your magazine. I subscribed to PEOPLE to read about celebrity gossip and not to read about serious issues.

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