Regarding "Needs a Playmate" (Feb. 15), I agreed with your advice to 7-year-old "Jessie's" mom to make it clear that what happened was not her daughter's fault, and that "Jason" was in the wrong. You also addressed Jason's mother's unwillingness to deal with the issue. However, I don't believe your advice went far enough.
What 13-year-old Jason did was not merely misbehaving. It was an attempt at sexual molestation and a huge red flag. Chances are he has tried this behavior before, and likely succeeded. There is also the possibility that Jason himself has been a victim or has been exposed to sexually arousing material. In any case, he needs help. An investigation should occur to locate other possible victims. The appropriate reaction to something like this is to contact the local authorities and child protective services.
- Concerned Reader in Utah
DEAR READER: Thank you for raising this issue. Other readers were also concerned that my advice did not go far enough. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: In many states, if there is a four-year age gap between children who engage in "sex play," it may constitute a crime. In many counties, children's services will step in to investigate whether Jason has also been abused or, more likely, is watching pornography. Jason needs to be reported. Reporting this would be a good thing for him to ensure that he won't eventually become part of the juvenile justice system.
- A Little Shocked in Dayton, Ohio
DEAR ABBY: That 13-year-old boy attempted to sexually abuse Jessie, which is a crime. He may also have done other things to her that, at her age, she may not be able to understand were wrong. Her mom should have her examined by a physician and get a referral for counseling. The police should also be notified to investigate. Don't forget - Jason has a younger sister who could be a victim, too.
He's old enough to know his behavior is wrong, and without intervention he could repeat it. He may even make another attempt on Jessie, since she lives close by. She may be at risk for being abused again and remain silent because she lost her friend when she told her mother what happened in the first place. Mom: Please don't overlook this.
- Nancy in New England
DEAR ABBY: When I watch videos on my laptop or phone, I usually use headphones so the noise doesn't disturb others. If the video is funny, I laugh. Like most people, I love comedy and I love to laugh.
In recent months, however, my father has frequently made a point of telling me that my laughing is disturbing, especially when no one else can hear what I'm laughing at. He says the sound can be startling, and that I sound maniacal or hysterical. Naturally, I feel guilty, and it tends to ruin the enjoyment of whatever I'm watching.
What do I do to resolve this source of conflict? Try not to laugh when he's around?
- Laughing Out Loud