THE excuses that could be - and have been - made for the young killers of toddler Jamie Bulger are legion: they came from broken, unhappy homes; they watched a diet of video nasties which warped their minds; the murderer called Child B, Jon Venables, was hyperactive and easily led. Alternatively - as one child psychologist claimed - it just ''got out of hand''. None of this, however, explains why two apparently sane 10-year-olds would deliberately set out to abduct a child of less than three, force him to come with them to a pre-selected site, brutally, coldly, beat and stone him and then leave him to be run over by a train. What makes a child go so much further than the normal run of loutishness and misbehaviour that be expected from other difficult children of the same age? The parents must bear some of the blame. Certainly, now that the controversial decision has been taken to release the boys' names, the neighbours and the family of the victim will ensure they never escape a sense of responsibility. Indeed, the harassmentthe boys' families face as a result of this unusual disclosure will be punishment of almost Old Testament severity. One family is in hiding already. But bad parenting alone is not enough to explain what happened to Jamie Bulger. The families are not actually guilty of any crime except neglect. Parents everywhere - especially the parents of problem children - will be asking themselves what any father or mother could do - or fail to do - to bring such monsters into the world and such tribulation to their families. The parents of neither child were home-making paragons. The mother of Child A, Robert Thompson, in particular was known to spend her time in pubs and was unable to look after her seven children adequately. Yet both she, and the father of Jon Venables, had been sufficiently interested in their sons' welfare to have begun meeting them every day at the end of school to try to stop them playing truant. Neither boy had been totally abandoned. Neither was worse off, say, than the street children in many Third World cities. But where else has such depravity been recorded among such young children? The very rarity of such crimes among children means they cannot be blamed either on a general breakdown of society. Nor, despite the distasteful political point-scoring that has accompanied the case in Britain, can they be blamed on lack of moral direction from the Church or the Government. Meanwhile, by ordering the children named, the judge has taken a risk which may badly misfire. Perhaps this unusual move will serve its intended purpose not only of bringing home to the boys and their families the horror of their misdeeds but of making it clear they are not heroes to be emulated by other youngsters. The danger is that it will have the opposite effect and lead to copycat attacks on toddlers by other young children. If one pair of 10-year-olds can be so brutal, how skin-deep is the decency of some others of their age?