Most of us act as if trauma were a recent invention. When it comes to our children, we also act as if our newfound obsession were in need of a professional solution. Hence the appearance of crisis counselors in the schools in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, and the sniper shootings.

In the early 1960s, I was a military brat in school in France during the Algerian uprising. Acts of terrorism were rampant. Armed soldiers rode on our school buses. We routinely passed through roadblocks. Our elementary school was surrounded by barbed wire and machine gun nests. Were we traumatized? Not really. If anything, it brought a certain sense of importance to our existence.

As a society, we seem to have supplanted parental influence and common sense with an army of caregivers to stroke and comfort children through such circumstances. While school districts are financially hemorrhaging, we never blink when it comes to shelling out for this perpetual standby crew. I say jettison these charlatans and spend the money on teachers.

Children are resilient and capable of realizing tragic circumstances and of coping with them.

Where do we go from here? I say let the children return to the playing fields. Bake some cookies for the police officer who's been out there on the front lines. Take a significant other to a favorite sidewalk cafe for a night of excess. Whatever we do, let us breathe life back into our region and return to a sense of normalcy.

PAUL ROSA

Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

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The Oct. 26 editorial "Prevention Beats Prosecution" regarding minimizing gun violence focused only on gun control and ignored the condition of the human heart and mind. What motivated the serial sniper? What caused the serial sniper to plan the heinous attacks and to coldly carry them out against innocent strangers? The sniper's deviant character, not the gun, is the root cause. The gun was merely a tool.

In the case of the sniper tragedy, a number of systems designed to protect a civil society did not work. John Allen Muhammad was not legally entitled to be in possession of any gun, and John Lee Malvo was not entitled to be in this country. Our priority should be the expeditious examination of these system failures and the quick implementation of corrections.

If existing systems had worked, Mr. Muhammad would not have been in possession of a gun and a willing sidekick.

DENNIS PILLOW

Warrenton