Dear Abby:

I am a 14-year-old girl. My brother molested me. It happened only once, but since then he has twice offered me money to help him with his "fixation." He had a girlfriend for a few years and they had sex all the time. After they broke up, his next relationship lasted for only a few months before she broke it off. That's when he turned to me.

I haven't told anyone because I'm ashamed of myself. I don't want people to find out -- especially my friends. I'm afraid they'll think I'm gross or something. What should I do?

"Toy" in Indiana

What happened wasn't your fault. You have done nothing to be ashamed of. The person who should be ashamed is your brother. His "fixation" is sick, and he should not be trying to make you a part of it.

It is important that you get help. Your friends do not have to know. Tell your mother what happened. If she minimizes what your brother did, then pick up the phone and call your local rape hotline, or the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (R.A.I.N.N.) -- 800-656-HOPE (4673). The people there will understand the seriousness of what happened and will help you during this difficult time. Please don't wait. Trust me, you are not as alone as you think you are.

Dear Abby:

I am a 13-year-old girl. I baby-sit for a family with three children. I watch them twice a week from after school until the mother arrives home from work. Lately, the kids have been involved in sports and after-school activities, so some weeks I am not needed.

Yesterday when I arrived, there sat the mother. She had taken the day off from work and didn't notify me. I'm afraid if I bring up the fact that I never know whether or not I should go to watch the kids, I'll lose my job. (Of course, when I don't baby-sit, I don't get paid.) I would appreciate any advice you have.

Getting Frustrated

It's time to expand your client roster. It appears you are being taken for granted and taken advantage of. For the mother to expect you to reserve a block of time and then not pay for it is inconsiderate and unfair.

I recommend you institute a 24-hour cancellation policy. If you allot time to baby-sit someone's children, you should be paid for that time unless properly notified. Experienced, responsible babysitters aren't easy to find.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.

(c)2004, Universal Press Syndicate