'IT'S TIME to get out." That's the sentiment of many longtime Philadelphians over the wave of violent crime plaguing the streets.

My parents are 80 and live in Grays Ferry. My mother loves her home and even at their age, do everything they can to keep a nice, presentable house.

In the '70s and '80s, the neighborhood was criticized for being racially intolerable, but the truth is the neighbors protected their families from any type of undesirables - white, black or anything else.

They were always portrayed as hateful racists by the media, but both sides were rarely shown. Well, that element has taken control of the area, and it has never been more filthy or dangerous. Gunshots and drug wars are an everyday event, and people like my parents must fear for their lives just to walk their puppy or mail a letter.

Why does this happen? Do we need tougher gun laws?

Maybe, but a murderer without guns just has to work harder. Harrisburg has made it clear that it will not help Philadelphia, so it's time for Plan B.

We need to emphasize that people have to raise their children with a sense of responsibility. When your 12-year-old is out on a bike with a cell phone at 11:30 on a school night, you are not being a good parent.

I saw a mother tell her toddler to "stop [bleepin'] walking so slow!" Some will say she's disadvantaged, not just plain wrong. The logic is twisted, the fear of being criticized keeps us from telling it like it is.

No law in the land can be made to stop a kid who's decided it's his right to take a life in the name of the streets. We fail to stress personal responsibility and doing whatever you can to avoid letting your child fall into a "thug life," from the clothes he wears to the music he listens to. Another problem is children breeding children with no guidance; a vicious cycle. It's not unusual to hear a group of kids cussing at the top of their lungs no matter who is around.

Bill O' Flynn

Collingswood, N.J.