DR. WALLACE: My brother is a brat. I've told him a zillion times not to come into my room unless he knocks first and gets my permission to enter.
Last night, he walked right into my room without knocking when I was getting ready for bed. In a loud voice, I told him to get out of my room immediately. Well, my mother heard me and came upstairs to see what all the commotion was about. Instead of getting on my brother's case for entering my room, she blamed me for yelling at him. This really ticked me off, and at the top of my lungs, I screamed: "Now I'm yelling? I was only talking loudly to my brat — I mean, my brother!"
For this I was grounded for 10 days, and my brother got no punishment whatsoever. I feel I was unjustly punished. Was I? — Brat's Sister, via email
SISTER: Even though you were trying to make a point, it's a no-no to yell at or in the presence of your parents unless there is a true emergency. Your punishment was warranted, even though I think a week would have been more than long enough. However, it's also true that the time has come to deal with your brother's uninvited visits. Ask if your parents will allow you to put a lock on your door. It could save a lot of future problems for you. This is a reasonable request that should be honored by your parents. If they agree, do immediately open the door for your parents anytime they request you do so!
SHOULD SEX EDUCATION BE PUBLIC?
DR. WALLACE: Is it true that they are going to ban sex education from the classroom? If this is true, when will kids get the necessary facts? Most parents wait until it's too late or are too embarrassed themselves to do the job correctly. — Want to Know, Seattle
WANT TO KNOW: Each school district makes its own curriculum. This is usually done by school personnel and approved by the school board. It's possible, for instance, for sex education to be discontinued in Seattle while remaining in effect in schools in Everett or Tacoma. Your principal can answer your question.
Sex education in public schools remains controversial in some communities, and local boards of education are greatly sensitive to public pressure. However, as you point out, teenagers are in great need of factual information on this topic, and when parents don't provide it, the best source is school. If your local board is discontinuing sex education because of complaints from one sector of the community, the only way to restore it is for the rest of the community to let its opinion be known, loudly and persistently.
As a former public high school principal, I favor a sex education program for public schools. Parents who do not want their students to participate could send a signed letter asking to have their teen not participate, and it would be honored. This would be a workable plan, and in fact, it was the plan used by our school district when I was a high school administrator. It proved to be very successful.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.