IREAD THE LETTERS by the eighth-graders at Douglass Elementary, and I wonder if Mayor Street cares at all. The one that really stood out was by Demi Regan. Especially: "When will our mayor crack down on the drug-dealing, blunt-smoking, murdering thugs on our corners so we can just play outside?"

Just take a minute and really understand what this student said. And I ask again: Mayor Street, do you care?

I have three children I fear for every day. When I send them to school, I pray they'll make it home. I don't let them go outside without me. I've had to teach my children that if they hear gunshots, don't run, drop to the ground and crawl under a parked car.

Why do we have to teach our children what to do when they hear shots, and why do they even have to hear them? Why can't our children be children? Why do our children have to fear for their lives, and why do we adults have to fear for our lives?

If I can point out the drug-dealers in my neighborhood and other neighborhoods, why can't the police seem to find them? Police drive by known drug areas day in and day out, the guys are blatantly out there selling drugs day in and day out, but nothing is done. Why?

Why is it that police don't have a huge presence until there is a shooting? Then they hang around for a couple of days, maybe a week, then things go back to normal - until the next shooting. I listen to the police commissioner and Mayor Street, but they really aren't saying anything.

We need HELP, the city is in a major crisis. My son is afraid to take the trash outside because he might get shot. At the age of 9, my son has to worry about dying. The children of Douglass Elementary and every other child in Philadelphia live in fear on a daily basis. Is this really America that we live in?

Demi Regan asked: "Are our lives important to anyone else besides our parents?" I would like to say to Demi and all the other children that I care, your life is important to me, and so is every other child's in the city.

Philadelphia, we have to save our children! Mayor Street, save our children!

Gov. Rendell, save our children! The city of Philadelphia needs help now!

I didn't have my children to have the streets take them away from me.

And for all the candidates running: You need to really care. If you really don't care about the violence in our city and are not committed to stopping it, then you should take yourself out of the race. Thank you, Terry Saskin and the eighth-grade students who wrote these letters.

Patricia Reichner