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I believe it is the duty of any newspaper not to play into the irrational prejudices of its readers, but to disturb and challenge us to think in a new way.

Unfortunately and surprisingly, Donn Esmonde played to the mob sentiment in his recent column on Jason Lorich, the North Tonawanda teacher charged with sexually molesting his pupils.

If we have learned anything in recent decades about the testimony of children, it is that they all too often tell adults what they think the adults want to hear, that their testimony generally cannot be relied on and that such charges are often dismissed. Nevertheless, in the meantime, the reputation of the defendant has been ruined beyond repair.

On the bright side, The News is to be complimented for its lengthy article profiling the lives of the five young people charged with the murder of James J. Mack. Given the horror of the crime and the reported lack of remorse, it would have been very easy to further demonize these five in the eyes of readers, but that's not what the reporters did. I compliment them for challenging us. Rather than play to the mob sentiment, they disturbed us by presenting what they could learn about the miserable lives of these five - revealing a lifetime pattern of parental neglect and societal indifference.

There is a tiny band of caring people, including social workers, parole officers, teachers and clergy. But these are obviously nowhere near enough to reach out to the vast number of neglected young people we have on our streets. We need to do more, lots more. We need to commit a portion of our vast government surplus to reach out to these neglected and abused young people.



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