I was extremely disappointed with your recent editorial, "Pennsylvania's new underage drinking law missing a key ingredient." The act, which took effect Jan. 1, increases the maximum fine for second and subsequent underage drinking offenses.

You state, "If an underage drinker knows Mom or Dad will foot the bill if he or she is caught with a beer, it doesn't matter what the fine is. Any deterrent goes out the window." You fail to recognize the missing "ingredient" already in place, but often lacking in society.

It's called responsible parenting, something that cannot be legislated and frankly doesn't need to be. Its absence is due to parents who prefer to be their child's friend, rather than their authority figure.

For the record, I do enjoy an occasional beer. The example I set for my daughter does not, however, include "teaching" her how to drink or get drunk at home in a controlled atmosphere, a practice many irresponsible parents employ.

The night she turned 21, I knew my daughter would probably be in some establishment with friends, and having something alcoholic when the clock struck 12. That was her choice. My statement to her was, "Have fun, but don't call me if you get in trouble or end up passed out somewhere. I won't be picking you up." She will gladly verify this.

Some of you probably think I'm mean. I beg to differ, and my daughter and I have a great relationship. She has friends, and I'm not one of them. I'm her father, and she has only one of them.

If anything, the fine this new law puts into place isn't stiff enough. One day, this country will take seriously the problem of alcoholism. Responsible parenting moves us closer to that day.

Scott B. Little

Elizabethtown