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by Abigail Van Buren

Grandma Thinks Teachers Could Lighten Girl's Load

DEAR ABBY: My granddaughter, at the age of 14, is seeing a chiropractor because of back problems caused by the backpack she carries to school five days a week.

Her teachers require her to have a three-ring binder for each class, no exceptions. Abby, this school has no lockers, and each child is expected to carry the pack home each night and return it to school the next day.

Twenty pounds and up is too much for an adult to carry, let alone a growing child. A newspaper article said children in France are fighting the same problem and that it has become a national disgrace. What are teachers thinking of?

As yet, I haven't seen a backpack with wheels, so I may have to get my granddaughter a luggage cart to save her back. Any comments? -- AN OUTRAGED GRANDPARENT IN BOULDER, COLO.

DEAR OUTRAGED GRANDPARENT: Backpacks distribute weight more evenly than the old book bags we carried in school, but I agree that 20 pounds is a heavy weight.

Many college students, who have even larger books, often strap their books and documents onto portable luggage carriers for easy transport. At age 14, your granddaughter may not want to be different from her friends who still use backpacks, but wheels would ease the strain on her back.

DEAR ABBY: It is unfortunate that "Dumbfounded in Foxboro, N.C." was suspected of shoplifting, detained and questioned. It is even more unfortunate that he felt humiliated and will no longer shop in that store again.

The security officer acted discreetly by asking "Dumbfounded" to follow her. When she realized her mistake, she apologized. Why didn't "Dumbfounded" think, "At least I know this store is trying to hold people accountable and not permit shoplifters to get away with theft (which causes retail prices to rise)"?

Abby, the security officer made a mistake for which she apologized. An apology should be sufficient.

The world would be a much kinder and gentler place if we treated each other with understanding and forgiveness, not retaliation.-- KATHY IN WASHINGTON

DEAR KATHY: I agree, and since this is the beginning of the new year, I'm sure the security officer who made the mistake would be relieved to know that she has been absolved.

DEAR ABBY: As my Christmas cards arrived this year, I noticed there were a few familiar names missing.

It would be so nice if children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews would let folks know if Aunt Mary in California, Sally in Illinois or Gladys in North Dakota were in nursing homes, or deceased.

When my beloved mother died, I wrote to all the people she corresponded with or sent holiday cards to, to inform them of her passing.

I received so many letters telling me how grateful they were that I had written. It takes so little time and it's very much appreciated. -- BEVERLY IN DENVER

DEAR BEVERLY: An excellent suggestion. Thank you for this thoughtful reminder we can all use.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600