The editing of a letter to the editor Sunday, "Hold parent...

Letters to the Editor

June 07, 1998

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.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

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.

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