Originally created 03/20/01

Xtreme advice: Cooler heads should prevail in potentially explosive situation



THIS WEEK'S PROBLEM

I'm involved with a group of friends who are cool until somebody says something about them. This girl has been saying stuff about us that makes us want to fight her, but we've been warned that if we fight her we're going to get suspended. I don't know what to say to talk them out of it because I'm trying not to get suspended - because I know what's up, I know better. So I need help because I'm trying to figure out what to do with them. - 13-year-old Hephzibah girl

Here's what you had to say:

- I have the same problem with my group at school. But when they want to get in fights, you just have to leave it alone. That girl is not worth it. That's all I have to say.

- I think you should have a talk with your friends and tell them that it's not right to fight other people. If they don't see it your way, then I think you need to find other friends because they're not really a good influence on you. Plus, you need to have a talk with the girl who's talking to y'all mean and tell her it's not right to talk to other people like that.

- Don't worry about what all the rest of the people are doing. Worry about yourself. And don't waste your time on that girl.

- I would not even worry about the group of girls. If you fight, it's only going to make matters worse.

Xtreme reporter Alisa DeMao says: You've already demonstrated maturity by weighing the costs of your actions and deciding you don't want to get suspended. You need to be firm about that - don't get pulled back into the mess when you know it will end badly for you. Remember, just because someone says something about you doesn't make it true.

Sit down and talk to your friends about the pros and cons of their actions. Try to make them see that the punishment and its effect on their schooling isn't worth whatever short-lived satisfaction they might get from fighting.

If they refuse to listen to you, there's not much more you can do. People have to make their own decisions - even when they're bad decisions. That doesn't mean they have to pull you along with them. A real friend doesn't drag you down.

Talking to a trustworthy adult at school about your concerns may demonstrate to school officials that you tried to keep things from exploding if your friends do end up fighting and people think you're guilty by association. If it's possible to do it calmly, try talking to the other girl, too. It's likely she'll also get in trouble if things keep happening, so you may be able to come to a truce that's mutually beneficial - just leaving each other alone - even if you aren't actually friendly.

Next week's problem

My best friend is having a lot of problems right now, and she's talking about hanging herself. She told me and told me not to tell anybody. What should I do? Should I tell somebody or just keep quiet?

Do you have any advice for this 15-year-old Augusta girl? Call the Advice Line at 442-4444 and press 8614. You'll have one minute to answer.

Got a problem? Call 442-4444 and press 8613. You'll have one minute to give us your situation. Please state your age and the town you live in.

You also can e-mail your problems to ademao@augustachronicle.com. Put "Advice Line" in the subject line. All e-mail addresses will be kept confidential. Questions may be condensed for space.