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by Abigail Van Buren

Head-Spinning Numbers Cause Mind to Go Slack

DEAR ABBY: I'm so scared. There are many students at my school with weapons, alcohol and even drugs. Yesterday, three kids were suspended because of their use of drugs. Earlier this year, someone brought a pocketknife on my bus.

I'm only in seventh grade, and I still have my whole high school to go through. One of my best friends even told me she wanted to get high just to see what it is like. (She also threatened one of my other friends she doesn't like -- not because of me, though.)

I feel so defenseless. What can I do to protect myself? Please publish this in your column so others in my situation will know what to do. Thank you so much. -- SCARED IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR SCARED: According to James T. Butts Jr., chief of the Santa Monica, Calif., Police Department, the best thing you can do to protect yourself is to report any unlawful or dangerous conduct you observe to a responsible adult as quickly as possible, and to be brave -- because things will change only when everybody stands up for what is right.

What we must do as a society to reduce crime is make sure that help is available to those who need it -- and assure that there are appropriate consequences for anyone who willfully endangers others.