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TEACH UTAH YOUTHS THAT LAWS RULE

In an age when juvenile lawlessness is so common it makes headlines only when it is extremely violent, Utah's rising generation could benefit greatly from a primer on the law.

That is why a program started by the Utah State Bar deserves support. Local attorneys are making themselves available for assemblies, classroom presentations and speeches to high schools statewide. They have a book titled "Rights Responsibilities Relationships" geared specifically for young people, and they are anxious to teach about the law and its consequences.Unfortunately, some schools along the Wasatch Front have declined invitations to participate in the program. Understandably, many are concerned about allowing attorneys to instruct students at a time when the cohesive fabric of some schools is threatened by issues such as religious songs at graduations and gay student clubs.

But the program has nothing to do with those controversies. It has everything to do with understanding the law and its purpose, and it ought to be supported.

Its message is particularly timely, as May 1 is recognized nationally as Law Day.

Our nation was established on the principle of the rule of law. Simply put, this means that laws enacted by an elected, representative government set the rules for society's interactions. And those laws must remain within the framework of a Constitution that guarantees fairness and protects the rights of minorities.

It means that people cannot have their way simply by arming themselves or by forming gangs. It means that the weak and helpless have rights and protections, and it provides for an orderly way to resolve disputes.

Those are important concepts for youths to understand. They are important for adults, as well. Given the recent standoff by the so-called "Freemen" in Montana and the rise in private militia groups, the bar might consider targeting an older audience, as well.

In the meantime, however, all Utah high schools should take advantage of this program.