DR. WALLACE: My older sister, 17, is now 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighs a little less than 100 pounds. My parents have done everything in their power to get my sister to eat more and gain some more weight, but nothing has been successful lately. I don't think she has an eating disorder or anything. She's just naturally thin. Should she really try to gain more weight? — Linda Lou, Jacksonville, Florida
LINDA LOU: Each young person grows taller and gains weight at his or her own pace, often driven by his or her specific genetic makeup. As long as your sister is eating healthy foods regularly, there should be no problem. Family members sometimes misdiagnose anorexia nervosa, but it is a disease that is absolutely no joke. I trust your family has a doctor and you and your sister get regular checkups.
The element missing for me from your letter is why your parents are so interested in having your sister gain weight. Is she trying out for a sports team, perhaps? In any case, a desire to achieve weight gain or loss is best commenced under a doctor's care. Suggest this to your parents directly.
SPEAK UP RIGHT AWAY
DR. WALLACE: Last year at school, two boys accosted me every day. They called me names, hit me and made me pay them my lunch money or they would beat me up after school. They told me that if I told anyone, they would deny everything and then beat me up really badly every day after school. I hated going to school at the end of last year, when this first started. I was very thankful for the summer vacation, but now I dread going back to school and having to face this every day. It has now started again with our fall 2019 school year. These same two beasts are torturing me again, and they are really giving it to me every single day.
Please tell me what I can do to get these guys to leave me alone. I read your column, and I know you sometimes tell kids like me to fight back, but I can't do that. The two of them are always together, so it would be impossible to take them on at one time. Please, please tell me what to do. I'm even afraid to tell my parents. — Terrified, Bronx, New York
TERRIFIED: You don't necessarily need to fight back, but you must stop being afraid. As a former high school principal, I fully understand the terrible position the bullies have placed you in. Unfortunately, your situation is all too common. It won't stop until you take some action to get people on your side.
Do tell your parents what's happening, and insist they meet with the principal immediately. He or she has the authority to see that this form of brutality and extortion is eliminated instantly. Suspension, followed by a parent conference, is the lightest punishment these two bullies should receive.
Your school principal should effectively handle this urgent problem, but if for some reason he or she does not, have your parents discuss the situation with the school district superintendent. Believe me, the buck stops there. I can assure you the problem will be dealt with promptly and effectively.
Most importantly, you should know you are not to suffer silently in an ongoing situation such as this. One instance or one day of being bullied is not acceptable — ever. The authorities and society are firmly on your side. You must take immediate action to mobilize the adults who can help you right away.
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.
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