ATEACHER is off on long-term sickness after two 15 year-old pupils made sickening phone calls including death threats.

The mother of one of the boys says it wasn't a real death threat, it was only done "to wind the teacher up".

Well, that's all right then.

Increasingly, yobbish, aggressive behaviour by undisciplined children is given the nod by parents who somehow believe that their offspring are merely being "energetic".

Sometimes, unfortunately, such lively behaviour also includes terrorising teachers -- usually a reflection of how such energetic youngsters exert a similar regime of terror in their communities.

The latest row over the Surrey schoolboys is set to rumble on for a while. But what is really disturbing is not so much the antics of the pupils, but the actions of the adults.

We all love our chidren, but surely there comes a time when we have to acknowledge that what they have done is wrong, and they must be punished.

And those quick to rush to what they see as "a cause" -- where the innocent victim must be protected from Big Brother State -- show themselves to be equally blinkered.

When children run riot in this way, at home or at school, it is imperative that they are shown such behaviour is not acceptable.

Dismissing whatever they do as youthful high spirits or, worse, as justifiable, is not only misguided but wicked.

For the message that goes out to youngsters is completely muddled.

It says that whatever children do is fine because they are young, so more or less anything is permissible -- and that the decisions of adults who are paid to be in charge of them, and hence responsible for overall discipline, can be dismissed at any time by someone waving the Politically Correct rulebook.

It sounds like an over-simplification to say that children learn about right and wrong from what they are taught and shown by their parents and others.

But if the necessary slap on the wrist turns into a congratulatory shake of the hand, how can they ever recognise what is the right thing to do?

Education minister Estelle Morris may have been wrong to intervene in the Surrey case. Indeed, she has probably made a bad situation worse.

But her instincts and morality were entirely correct, and thousands of parents are currently shaking their heads that such a stupid situation could ever have been allowed to happen.