In the Jan. 27 letters concerning David Nicholson's Jan. 21 op-ed column, "They Should Behave Better," some writers suggested that Mr. Nicholson "get involved" with the youths who display bad behavior to the point of "engaging them outside school hours" or helping to "establish after-school activities." Come on. We learn from our parents how to treat our fellow man. We shouldn't need a stranger to explain that it's not okay to be rude in public.

The real question is why aren't the parents involved enough to show their kids how to act in public? Granted, these days it's a struggle for parents to impart character lessons to their children. In today's coarse popular culture, kindness, manners and consideration of others are exhibited mostly by nonhumans, such as animated characters and purple dinosaurs; the golden rule is often overshadowed by the shock value and selling power of the crude and the rude. But too many parents seem willing to forfeit the job of character-building to the prevailing culture, to other people or to the children themselves. The result is character orphans being raised with music-video morality and sitcom sensibilities.

Richard A. Jackson, the principal of Calvin Coolidge Senior High School, wrote that "adults who stand by while children misbehave share the responsibility for that bad behavior." He then tacitly excused the bad behavior of his students by writing that Mr. Nicholson "owes the students of Coolidge and all young people an apology." Mr. Jackson chooses to blame others rather than "share in the responsibility." That's sad.

MIKE McLAUGHLIN

Laurel