DR. WALLACE: I'm writing about your response to Nicole, age 13, of Toledo, Ohio, whose 15-year-old sister hits her whenever she's angry. She explained that, as a Christian, she doesn't believe she should hit her back. Your response was: Defend yourself, and hit her back.
In my opinion, Nicole is right in thinking violence is wrong. The last thing the world needs right now is more violence. One girl isn't going to make a lot of difference, but by telling her it's O.K. to hit back if someone hits you, it's like telling all teens that violence is alright.
But it's not, and if a person can turn the other cheek, the person should be congratulated instead of criticized. Others should learn something from these peacemakers, and it would make the world a better place
So, please, Dr. Wallace, tell your readers that peace is the answer, not violence. And you will be doing the world a big favor. — Sherry, Palo Alto, Calif.
SHERRY: We are not in disagreement. I abhor violence and believe, with you, that peace is the only answer. But turning the other cheek doesn't simply mean sitting there and taking it, over and over. When merely ignoring a bully doesn't curtail the bullying, different tactics are necessary. True peacemakers, in other words, actually stop the violence.
Sadly, many young people find themselves in Nicole's position. They are abused by some jerk that is able to act with impunity because the adults who are supposed to be in charge, at home or at school, are the ones looking the other way. Nicole had been physically abused by her sister for a long time, and her parents were failing to protect her.
She had no choice but to stand up to her sister in some way and let her know that she would no longer tolerate being pushed around and physically assaulted. Sometimes words and unwavering eye contact are sufficient; sometimes self-defense requires stronger action, up to, and including fighting back. Usually very little physical retaliation is necessary to cause the bully to reevaluate her behavior.
But simply enduring the violence, and failing to end it, is not bringing peace to the world.
ALL TEEN PARTIES MUST HAVE ADULT SUPERVISION
DR. WALLACE: I'm 15 and have never been in any serious trouble — anywhere! I'm not considered to be a goody-goody, but I'm also not reckless either. My best friend is throwing a "sweet 16" party for a mutual friend, and, of course, I'm invited. The party will be from 6 to 10 p.m. on a Saturday. About 20 guys and gals will be attending. But I'm not so sure I'll be one of them.
My mom refuses to let me attend because there will be no adult supervision. My friend's father is going on a business trip and her mom is going to go with him. All the kids who will be at the party know each other and none of them is a troublemaker.
Now that you know the facts, do you think I should be allowed to attend this party? I'm banking on you to be a friend and say you think it's alright for me to attend. — Nameless, Nashville, Tenn.
NAMELESS: Sorry, but I'm not in favor of teens attending a party without proper adult supervision. No exceptions!
I hope my answer doesn't end our friendship!
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. E-mail 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.