I am a happily married man, raising two daughters, ages 12 and 15.
A friend I have known for 20 years, "Kevin," has become a little too friendly toward our 15-year-old, "Amanda." He has been giving Amanda money for doing nothing. The first time, he gave her $300 and told her not to tell her mother or me. Of course, our daughter told us anyway. When we confronted Kevin, he said he felt sorry for Amanda and she was supposed to baby-sit to pay back the loan, so we allowed her to keep the money to buy clothes with.
A few weeks after that, Kevin gave Amanda $200 for letting him cut her long blond hair so he could sell it on the Internet. Needless to say, her mother and I were very upset. But instead of confronting him again, we just gave Kevin the cold shoulder, hoping he'd get the message and go away.
About a month later, he sneaked into our home while my wife and I were out and installed a satellite box in Amanda's room. When we discovered the box, we asked Amanda where it came from, and she said Kevin. I looked at the programming on the box. It had been rigged with free pay and pornography channels. We were very upset. We removed the box, gave it back to our ex-friend and ordered him never to come around our kids again. Do you think we did enough? We don't want to overreact.
Unsure in Washington
One of the things pedophiles do with potential victims is something called "grooming." They befriend the young person, give him or her gifts or money, encourage the minor to keep secrets from their parents, and then the seduction begins. That's what the free porn channel in your daughter's bedroom was for.
You did not do nearly enough in dealing with this predator. Although you may have discouraged him from targeting Amanda, what about other young girls in your community? Please contact your local police immediately, and tell the detectives in the sex crimes division what you have written to me. I give you my word, they won't think you are overreacting.
My daughter came home from school the other day with bruises on her body. When I asked her how she got them, she told me a little boy beat her up at recess. I went to the school to talk with her teacher, but nothing was done, and my daughter came home with another bruise yesterday. What should I do?
Worried Mom in Thomasville, Ga.
Your child has a right to get an education, free from bullying or harassment. Since talking to the teacher didn't help, here's the drill: Take your complaint to the principal of the school. If that doesn't stop the problem, go to the school board. If they fail to act, consult a lawyer.
Write Dear Abby atwww.DearAbby.comor P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.
2005Universal Press Syndicate