DR. WALLACE: I heard that some kid from another school took my gym bag and my team-issued uniform from where I was playing basketball at a park. I was walking home from school on a Thursday afternoon when I saw one of my friends shooting baskets there. I stopped for only five minutes to say hello and shoot about 10 shots with him. Then when I went to resume my walk home, my bag was gone. My friend said he saw this kid walking around by my bag and that's when he must have taken it. We didn't see anyone else around in those five minutes.
So, the next day I saw this same kid and I confronted him about stealing my stuff including the uniform that belongs to the school. This punk denied it, but then he laughed and told me I was "a fool" for leaving it unprotected while I played some hoops.
He was so smug and smarmy that it really ticked me off. Then when he kept laughing, I finally hit him in the face. Well, this little creep ran home to his mama and then she must have called my school because the next morning when I went to school my homeroom teacher had me go to see our principal. The principal then told me I was suspended from school for one week for fighting.
My father is furious because he said this did not happen on my school's campus, so the principal had no grounds to suspend me. My dad now wants to sue the school, the principal and even the entire school district.
If we sue, will we win? Do you think this principal is being unfair trying to discipline me when I was out of his jurisdiction? — That Punk Had It Coming, via email
THAT PUNK HAD IT COMING: No, I don't think you'll win, so tell your father to stand down in this case. A school typically has authority over its students on campus and as they travel to and from school in the mornings and afternoons.
If you felt this boy stole items from you and your school, you should have gone first to your principal to explain what happened and whom you think did this.
Taking matters into your own hands and then striking him in the face was your mistake. It would have been better for you to contact your school to explain what happened. I suggest that you apologize to your principal and accept your suspension. Also be sure to ask how the two of you can now work together to try to get the uniform back.
DR. WALLACE: I'm 18 and live at home. My little brother is 15 and usually is a pretty good kid, but the other day he said something that worried me. He said that one of his friends from down the block told him that it's cool to sniff "white out" fluid! This fluid comes in a small bottle that looks like nail polish and is used to erase words or marks from papers.
The way my little brother explained it, only this neighborhood kid was doing it. I've heard about kids sniffing model airplane glue before, but never "white out" fluid. I'm guessing they are similar.
Do you think I should tell this other kid's parents about what I know? I'm not sure if my brother has tried this or not, but I just told him to never sniff or huff any substance as it can be very dangerous. What do you think? Should I just let this go and consider my brother duly warned, or should I go further? — The Oldest Brother, via email
THE OLDEST BROTHER: Do tell this boy's parents what is going on. Think of it this way: If the situation were reversed, wouldn't your family want to know about what your little brother was doing so that you could put a stop to it? Substances such as these can be very, very dangerous and at times even lethal if inhaled. This is no matter to ignore.
I do suggest, however, that you carefully approach the parents out of view of this boy if possible. Then explain what you know, how you know it, and ask them to allow you to remain anonymous when they approach their son. Explain that you've warned your little brother and that you felt it was your duty to inform the parents about this matter so that they can intervene right away before this boy does his body any further harm.