Student learns the wrong lesson after cell phone incident at school

DEAR ANNIE: My child is in the fifth grade. She is a well-behaved girl and an excellent student. I have always tried to teach her to be respectful and honest.

The school has a rule that cell phones are to be kept in lockers until the end of the day, but all the kids, including mine, carry their phones in their pockets. During class yesterday, one of the girls left her ringer on. The teacher heard it and asked who had cell phones on them. No one would admit it. When she threatened to have the class searched, my child and one other confessed. They were told to pick up their phones from the principal when school was over, and that if they were caught with a phone again, it would result in a suspension.

I think this is unfair to the children who were honest. If the teacher threatened to search them, she should have followed through. My daughter said, "Thanks for trying to raise me right, but today it wasn’t too good. I should have kept my phone in my pocket like everyone else."

How would you handle this situation with the teacher, and what do I say to my child? — TDC

DEAR TDC: We are sympathetic, but your child was in violation of a school rule. Unfortunately, by letting the other children break the same rule, the lesson learned was that it’s better to be dishonest. We’re sure the teacher will argue that had your daughter kept her cell phone in her locker, she would have stayed out of trouble altogether, and that is the lesson you need to reinforce. Yes, the other students got away with it, but life is sometimes unfair. Your daughter sounds like a good kid, and if you don’t magnify the injustice, she will get over it.


DEAR ANNIE: My friend "Joe" is dying of cancer. He can be helped if he gets chemo, but he’s fallen in love with a woman who wants to marry him only to get his money. She’s planning the wedding for next week and wants the two of them to take a six-week vacation before he gets treatment. I think he should get treatment first because the cancer has spread and he’s getting worse.

I’m not the only one who disapproves. Joe’s siblings don’t like it either, but they think he should find out for himself that his fiancee is a gold digger. I think we should do something before it’s too late. What’s your opinion? — A Good Friend

DEAR FRIEND: There’s not much you can do if Joe is in love. It’s OK to express your concerns about postponing treatment. But will the chemo improve his quality of life or just prolong a debilitating state?

Friends and family often grasp at any effort that holds out promise, but it may not be what Joe wants. And if the gold digger makes him happy, please try to accept her so you can be there when he needs you.

Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.

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