The editing of a letter to the...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The editing of a letter to the editor Sunday, "Hold parent responsible when children carry guns," misidentified the weapon found in Hereford Middle School on May 27. It was a semiautomatic handgun.

The Sun regrets the error.

Hold parents responsible when children carry guns

I am spellbound before my television set over the proliferation of children killing children, parents and teachers.

With reports across our country of guns being brought to schools, I thought no one would bring a gun into our local schools, especially a very nice, quiet country school like our Hereford Middle School -- at least that had been my thinking.

The television news sent a shock of disbelief through me when I saw police cars surrounding Hereford Middle and heard the announcement that a 15-year-old student was arrested for allegedly bringing a semiautomatic rifle into the school.

We have to assume that an eighth-grader has reached a reasonable stage of maturity to be able to tell what is right and what is wrong.

He has probably seen the tragic results of all of these student murders on his television set.

This episode proves how hopeless it will be to try to stop children from bringing guns to school.

It is time to take another step toward controlling these terrible episodes: Arrest and charge parents in complicity in these acts.

Without parental control and guidance, there can be no assurance that our children will not become carriers of guns. The unbelievable number of guns in this country and the easy access to them by children is a national disgrace.

Walter Boyd

Lutherville

Check telephone bill to watch for services you didn't order

A skyrocketing problem for thousands of American telephone customers is the phenomenon of "cramming." Cramming occurs when a customer is billed for telecommunications services or programs, such as personal 800 numbers, that they did not use or request ("Beware crammers, slammers," May 24).

Most businesses that practice cramming charge less than $10 a month, hoping customers won't notice the additional fees. But some customers have been billed as much as $40 per month for services they did not order.

While none of the fraudulent activity originates at Bell Atlantic, the phony charges often appear on our bills because of consolidated billing that allows consumers to receive one bill for their telecommunications services, even with multiple providers.

Bell Atlantic has served notice to bill aggregators -- billing clearinghouses -- with which it works that it will no longer bill for their services unless they stop doing business with 20 companies identified as crammers. Our contracts with aggregators require advance notice of disputed charges. However, as of July 1, we will remove any charge that appears on a customer's bill that the customer did not request or approve -- no questions asked.

Bell Atlantic is dealing with the practice of long-distance "slamming" as well. Slamming occurs when a customer is switched from one long distance carrier to another without the customer's approval.

We urge consumers to question their phone bills and report any fraudulent activity.

Sherry F. Bellamy

Baltimore

The writer is president and chief executive officer of Bell Atlantic of Maryland.

SBC-Ameritech merger brings healthy competition

Critics of the SBC-Ameritech merger quoted in The Sun ("Telecommunications Act unlikely to be retooled," May 17) and The Sun's editorial ("Dialing up the past in the telephone industry," May 15) miss a key point -- the benefit of the merger to Maryland consumers.

The combined companies will jump start competition in Bell Atlantic's service territory. Once the merger is approved, we plan to compete with Bell Atlantic and offer an integrated mix of local, long distance, Internet and high-speed data services with a state-of-the-art nationwide network and global capabilities.

Customers want a full range of services from one provider wherever they go -- across town or across the country. The

combined SBC-Ameritech company will have the resources to do just that.

We expect that this merger will do more for consumers and competition -- and create more choices -- than anything that's occurred since the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Royce S. Caldwell

San Antonio

The writer is president of operations at SBC Communications Inc.

St. Peter's parish will miss Father Roach's selflessness

We had the honor of meeting Father Michael Roach while researching family history ("Exiled from his Eden," May 28).

The research took my husband and me to Mass at St. Peter the Apostle. After Mass, we introduced ourselves to Father Roach and explained our presence in the city.

A few months later, we received a detailed letter with names and dates translated from Latin by Father Roach. He was kind enough to examine the Sacramental Register of St. Peter's, back to 1857.

That information has been, and always will be, invaluable to our family in terms of history. Thank heavens our timing coincided with his watch at St. Peter's.

It was clear to us that Father Roach's priority was the people he served.

After meeting him, we sent him a few dollars to buy himself a pair of shoes, for his were in threads. Somehow, we never believed the new shoes landed on his feet, but on the feet of one of the

street people he served.

How saddened we were to read The Sun's article describing his transfer from St. Peter's. He was quietly doing the work of Christ among the poorest of Baltimore's poor while attempting to preserve standards and values.

Isn't this what Mother Teresa was about?

God forgive us for looking into the eyes of Christ and not seeing him as Father Roach did on a daily basis while he served St. Peter's.

Marty Spence

Richard Spence

Catonsville

Prepaid tuition can keep graduates out of the red

On behalf of the Maryland Prepaid College Trust, I would like to thank The Sun for the editorial in support of our program ("Pay me now or pay me later," May 30). As you know, preparing our children for the challenges of the future is extremely important.

But in addition to working with their children to improve reading, writing and math skills, parents need to prepare themselves to pay for the ever-growing costs of a college education.

Unfortunately, many of our college students have to rely on loans and debt to pay for their education.

These young adults begin careers strapped with a potentially huge financial burden. Instead of earning a living to prepare for their future, many are working to pay for their education after college.

One of the primary goals of the Maryland Prepaid College Trust is to help Marylanders reduce their dependency on loans and debt to pay for college.

We realize that not every family will be able to prepay tuition and mandatory fees through our program. Loans and debt will remain an answer for many families.

But the Maryland Higher Education Investment Program Board, which oversees the operations of the trust, is determined to help reduce the use of loans and debt for college costs from 80 percent today to 40 percent by 2015.

I encourage all parents and grandparents who are concerned about the future cost of a college education to contact the program at 888-4MD-GRAD.

Richard N. Dixon

Annapolis

The writer is Maryland state treasurer.

Thank you for recognizing the significance of Maryland's new prepaid college tuition program ("Pay me now or pay me later," May 30).

With all of the negative publicity that members of the General Assembly have received during the last year, state Sen. Edward Kasemeyer should be given credit for his diligence in sponsoring this bill and shepherding it to adoption. As you have written, it is a good idea. Ed was the man behind it.

Jim Kraft

Columbia

Military burial improper for Oregon shooting victim

No one reading the newspaper these days would deny the tragic nature of the recent Oregon school shootings.

However, I was shocked to learn that one of the teen-age victims was buried with full military honors merely because he had enlisted in the National Guard several days before his untimely death ("Bullet-shattered Oregon school reopens," May 27).

Such a gesture, I believe, is an affront to all those who actually and proudly wore the uniform of their country.

Bob Gray

Baltimore

Pub Date: 6/07/98

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