Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 21, 2004

Negative article insults students at Randallstown

After reading The Sun's article about my school, Randallstown High, I am very upset with the newspaper ("The promise of the ruling remains largely deferred," May 16). As a junior and an honors student with a 3.0-plus grade point average, I question why a student like me wasn't interviewed as opposed to the stereotypical "Randallstown student."

Although everything in the article wasn't false, the entire tone and point of the article put a negative light on my school. Randallstown High is the school I plan to graduate from, and the negative publicity being spread about my school will not attract colleges to pick me as opposed to a student from another high school.

There are many more productive, attentive and intelligent students at Randallstown High than the few who don't care about themselves. And when a newspaper decides to focus on a student who represents my school in a bad light instead of a student like me, I wonder if the objective was just to put a stigma on my school.

Randallstown High was already put in a bad light for the school shooting on May 7, and now my school has been downplayed in a local newspaper. This may deter some incoming freshmen who might otherwise want to come to my school.

There was almost nothing positive about the article, and more bad publicity won't do anything to help us get over our recent tragedies.

Kevin Gardner Jr.

Woodstock

Where did student get the handgun?

In the extensive coverage of the Randallstown High School shooting, one issue has not been addressed: How and where the shooter obtained a handgun ("Tense days preceded high school shooting," May 15).

Arguments in high school over girlfriends are nothing new, but 40 years ago, those arguments were not settled with guns. What has changed in the last 40 years is the increasing availability of handguns.

According to a report by National School Safety and Security Services, there have been 23 school-related shooting deaths and an additional 64 nonfatal shooting incidents since the start of the 2003-2004 school year alone.

If we truly want to stop school shootings, we need to reduce access to guns. We must call on Congress and President Bush to rein in a gun industry out of control.

After all, shouldn't we do everything in our power to ensure that our kids will be safe at school?

Cheryl L. Hystad

Baltimore

Kent school search went way too far

The Kent County High School drug search saddened me ("Sheriff to review policy on searches," May 14).

Strip-searching students based on the reactions of drug-sniffing dogs strikes me as overly aggressive and as insensitive to students' privacy rights.

A drug-free school is an impossible goal: As long as adolescents are curious about expanding their horizons, which includes drugs, those drugs will be made available to our children.

In fact, the illegal status of marijuana, cocaine, Ecstasy, etc., even for adults means the distributors of those drugs are criminals who have no incentive to avoid targeting children.

And even if a drug-free school were feasible, we must ask: At what cost?

We can't keep illegal drugs out of prisons; would we be willing to run our schools with more reduced privacy and continuous surveillance than a modern, high-security prison?

If we can accept that there will be some teen-age drug experimentation, then we can work to make it less harmful to our kids and focus on helping those at greatest risk for dangerously misusing drugs.

Tyler Smith

Silver Spring

Troubled teen-ager merits more mercy

I am certainly no expert on the subjects of teen-agers, mental health or the law. But after reading The Sun's article about Ryan T. Furlough's conviction, I can't help but feel that the jury erred in this case ("Ellicott City teen-ager guilty of peer's killing," May 18).

Mr. Furlough was prescribed high doses of Effexor, a drug with known behavioral side effects, and was clearly mentally ill during the period leading up to and following the murder of his friend Benjamin Vassiliev. And to my mind, the nature of the crime itself illustrates Mr. Furlough's incapacity for rational judgment. Did Mr. Furlough show any other indications of criminal intent in his life? Did he have a history of violent behavior?

The death of Benjamin Vassiliev is very sad, and my heart goes out to his family. And certainly Mr. Furlough must be held accountable. However, I would have hoped Mr. Furlough's case would be handled with a bit more compassion.

Walter Levy

Pikesville

Prison abuse worse than fraternity hazing

The writer of the letter "Barbaric murder dwarfs abuse scandal" (May 17) argues that "the highly publicized prisoner mistreatments are most comparable to what sometimes occurs in American college fraternities."

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