DR. WALLACE: My boyfriend is a great guy, and I love him very much. He doesn't do drugs, smoke or drink hard liquor. His only very small vice is that he loves beer; he drinks three to four beers a day during the week and maybe five or six a day on the weekend. I've never seen him drunk, but once in a while, he does get just a touch tipsy. He never drives after having a few beers, and that is good. He's very disciplined about this.
My parents like him! He is a high school graduate and has a good job working in construction. We have talked about getting married someday, but no date has been set at this point.
Last week, my parents had a talk with me about his "drinking problem." They know that we are semiserious as a couple, and they're worried about his drinking if we were to someday become engaged. My dad said that almost every time he has been close to him, his breath smells like stale beer.
I told him that my guy has never been in trouble because of drinking a few beers and that beer is a lot less alcoholic than hard liquor. What can I say to convince them that he doesn't drink hard liquor to excess? They should be happy he is drug- and smoke-free and stop worrying about a few beers. — Overanalyzed, Tulsa, Oklahoma
OVERANALYZED: I don't blame your parents for being worried: Your young man does have a drinking problem. You keep using the word "few" when you talk about his beer consumption, but the word you really mean is "many."
Drinking beer every day — and habitually having breath that reeks of alcohol — is evidence that someone likely has a drinking problem and, at the very least, is relying on alcohol too much daily. Might you suggest that he takes two weeks off from beer and see how he reacts (and acts) once you make that suggestion?
LOCKER SEARCHES ARE CONSTITUTIONAL
DR. WALLACE: I am shocked that our high school administrators conducted a "surprise" locker search. They opened every student locker without student permission. The word around school is that the administrators were looking for drugs. We are not sure what was found, but several students were suspended.
Don't students have the right to privacy as provided by our Constitution? Did our administrators break the law? A lot of us think they did. We attend a private school. Does this make a difference? — Anonymous, Chicago
ANONYMOUS: Even though teens have constitutional rights, the fact remains that young people cannot do everything adults are able to do. According to a 1985 decision by the Supreme Court, if school officials have a reasonable suspicion of illegal behavior that might cause harm to any student, lockers can be searched without student permission. It makes no difference if the school is private or public. The court concluded that a school environment requires an easing of the restriction to which searches by public authorities are normally subject. School officials actually do not need probable cause or a warrant to search students, because the overall safety of the school campus comes into play and is therefore deemed to be a higher priority.
At the public high school where I was an administrator, we never conducted an all-school locker search, but on several occasions, individual student lockers were searched, with the student present and with or without his or her permission. The safety of the student body as a whole is paramount, and so searching a locker without a student's permission to ensure the school's safety is done regularly on many campuses across this nation.
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.