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Telling Children About Prostitution:

The Albany Times-Union discusses what parents should say if children hear about the Spitzer scandal and start asking questions. Here's one particular recommendation:

Judy Kuriansky, a professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University Teachers College, said parents should be ready if children ask what a prostitute is.

"If they ask," she said, "You say, 'Sadly there are some women who feel that when they have an intimate experience with someone they need to get paid for it. This is something that is not healthy, and I don't accept it or condone it.'"

Then, Kuriansky said, parents should steer the conversation toward the kind of healthy relationship children should aspire to. "Shift it to what is positive," she said.

For young children, she said — under the age of about 8 — it should be enough to say that Spitzer did something bad and had to quit his job.

As Prof. Julie Novkov mentioned (on a discussion list I'm on), "Yeesh. I hope it was taken out of context ...." What does "intimate experience" mean to a 9-year-old? [UPDATE: Plus, as several commenters have pointed out, why focus just on the women and not on the men?]

I appreciate the problem this poses, and can envision having to talk about this to my boys one day. But it seems to me that either the kid knows about sex, in which case the best option is to explain this bluntly to him (especially since he's likely to hear something about it elsewhere, so it's better that he get the straight dope — coupled with relevant moral commentary — from you); or he doesn't know about sex, in which case talking about being paid for "intimate experience[s]" isn't terribly helpful.

I'd love to hear what others think, though.

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