DR WALLACE: I totally disagreed when you told a boy to ditch his friend who smokes, drinks and does drugs. My friends also smoke, drink and do drugs, and I've been friends with them for a long time. I also happen to not smoke, drink or do any drugs myself.
I was taught not to judge people by what you see but rather what's inside. I hate what my friends are doing, but I'm not about to desert them. We teens have enough of a challenge with life these days, so I just try to let everyone do their own thing without adding my judgment on top of it.
My parents are aware of my friends' habits, and they don't mind my hanging around them because they don't want to choose my friends. — Nonjudgmental, via email
NONJUDGMENTAL: I agree that parents should not choose friends for their teens, but they can and should stop them from hanging around with teens they disapprove of. I did not allow my teens to hang with friends who did drugs or participated in underage drinking. Chances are that teens who spend time with those who drink and do drugs will start doing the same.
Remember, I was a principal of a Southern California high school (with a student body of over 3,000), so I had plenty of opportunities to observe teenagers. If I learned anything, it was that birds of a feather do, indeed, flock together.
Make sure your mother and father have the opportunity to read your email and my response.
DON'T BE TEMPTED
DR. WALLACE: I've learned a real good lesson, and I would like to share it with all teens.
Last week, a friend and I went to the shopping mall. While shopping, we slipped a couple things into our purses. When we left the store, we were picked up by a store detective and taken to a room way at the back of the warehouse in the store. After filling out forms admitting to what we did, we were asked to apologize to the manager. We did this, and he gave us a stern warning but told us it was a one-time opportunity to change our ways and learn our lesson. He said that should either one of us repeat this behavior, the police would be called and the matter would then be out of his hands entirely at that point.
Luckily, we were not sent to juvenile hall for committing this crime. We were so scared when we got caught, and believe it or not, our parents were not called, so we didn't face any lectures at home. Yet, I'm still tormented with guilt. It was so stupid, and it's funny, but at the time, it seemed so harmless and cool. After all, the store has lots of money, it won't miss a few small things. ... Or so we thought. We learned a valuable lesson: Don't ever be tempted to shoplift. It was an experience I will never forget and never repeat. — Caught in the Act, via email
CAUGHT: Thanks for sharing your experience. Your words have reached many teens, some who may have been tempted to give shoplifting a try. It's wrong in every way to ever steal anything from anyone or any business. We appreciate that you were brave enough to send us your story in the hopes that it will positively influence others. I hope that confessing to your actions here nationally will prove cathartic for you.
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.