High time adults stop tolerating school bullies

Regarding your May 12 article "Schoolyard bullies and their victims: The picture fills out": I admire the mother/school board member for recognizing the problem and taking a stand. As a preschool assistant, I witnessed a 4-year-old girl verbally abuse her "best friend." When I reported this to the lead teacher, I was advised that the child had to "learn to deal with it." I have always regretted that there was no intervention. We had an opportunity to teach social skills to both the bully and the victim.

It is high time that we adults take responsibility for the "cultural forces at work" and teach these children the value of respect and consideration for others.
Carole Coulter
Ann Arbor, Mich.

As a former elementary school teacher who was often at odds with her fellow teachers, I believe this problem has its roots in the K-4 setting. "Don't be a tattletale" is the operative phrase. We scold children for being good citizens. They should report misbehavior. Instead of dealing with the misbehavior, it's easier for teachers to silence the reporter. Herein lies the origins of the "code of silence."

I'm not sure how or why this started in our schools, but I do know it needs to stop. I haven't seen one word in print about this practice in conjunction with school violence à la Columbine, but it's part and parcel of the problems in American schools.
Gloria Benacci
Laredo, Texas

Bush response to abuses inadequate

Your May 7 editorial "Mea Culpas Over Iraq Abuses," praising President Bush for nearly apologizing for the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuses, makes two serious mistakes.

First, by suggesting that these atrocities are "slip-ups," you have minimized the unthinkable wrongs done to a group of human beings, and the dire consequences that will surely follow for American interests around the world. Worldwide images of the "sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses" as described in the military's own study by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, should be strenuously denounced as wrong and immoral, not treated as some minor issue in Bush's reelection campaign.

Second, why don't you ask tougher questions of our commander in chief? It appears he was informed of these atrocities in January, and the full Taguba report was available to him in late February. You could ask: Why didn't he take action earlier, demanding swift public trials and appropriate punishment for the perpetrators and those responsible up the chain of command? Does Bush understand that his reaction is seen by many, especially in the Arab world, as too little, too late?
Dan Herr
Strasburg, Pa.

In defense of 'agro-Luddites'

In response to your May 13 editorial, "Buying Into Gene-Altered Foods": There are over 100 man-made problems out there - exotic invasive species like rabbits in Australia, and starlings, pigeons, carp, snakeheads, and zebra mussels in North America. Bureaucrats or foolhardy people have introduced most of these plants and animals for "good reason," and they have become invasive problems costing the global economy billions of dollars.

Now we have "food corporation science" telling us that it can do wonderful things with genetically modified (GM) plants. Why? It will save money, it will feed more people. All the usual arguments.

Unfortunately, the accountability for invasive problems is never, ever, accepted adequately by the initiators. So if GM food creates a problem, who is going to pay? Answer: "We'll see you in court." As a taxpayer, I eventually end up paying for the problem. Maybe we should figure out how to better use what is already produced.
Jan Normandale
Toronto, Ontario

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