To the editor:

To the editor:

Parents should teach their children to make responsible decisions and understand bad decisions could cause unpleasant consequences. They should not make excuses for their children in anticipation of bad behavior or because they already have failed as parents.

ThisWeek's story on Newark City Schools' athletics drug-testing rules (June 8) highlighted the principal cause of drug abuse by today's youth. The culprit is the proactive willingness of adults who enable their children to become criminals -- drug abusers are included in this group.

It is upsetting when enabling adults say drug-violation penalties should not be too strict because they add another layer of unfair pressure to children, or that it is unfair to add another hurdle to learning personal or social responsibility. They are only children, they say. If you take sports away from children, they quit school.

These adults should be required to take parenting classes. That should give them an opportunity to learn that, as an adult, they are responsible to know where their children are, whom they are with and what they are doing. They will be told they are expected to teach their children the rules society expects to be obeyed. Yes, they will be taught that violating the rules and laws of society actually requires penalties. Enabling parents will be shocked to learn their children actually prefer and need rules because children know only concerned and loving parents require them.

It is sad that schools have a policy that criminal drug activity is permitted, with no or few penalties. Unfortunately, the message is, "Abuse drugs until you are caught; then be careful." Most likely, they will graduate before school officials catch them often enough to punish them. This is a lesson that is easy to learn. It is in the paper and everyone talks about it.

Playing sports, like driving an automobile, is a privilege. It is not a constitutional right.

Participation in sports is a privilege given to a few because of superior mental and physical ability. Unfortunately, enabling parents fail to teach their children that after they are outside the protection of being in high school, the rules change and they could go to prison.

What athlete would you like to see representing sports at your school? Is it the athlete who carried the football for 1,200 yards and is doing eight years in Chillicothe? Is it the athlete who led the league with 320 rebounds and is doing five years in Marysville? I would rather see an athletics program that rewards responsible children, including those who run the ball for 82 yards and fumbled the ball 12 times as a senior and those who grabbed only three rebounds in four years.

Robert L. Cole