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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am an intelligent 35-year-old professional woman. Trying to recover from the shocking discovery that my 7-year-old son had been sexually molested repeatedly by a former live-in lover has left me and my son scarred and bitter.

After the bizarre revelations of my 7-year-old began to surface, subsequent investigation revealed that the man was on parole from prison for repeated sexual molestations. Now my son is likely to face years of therapy and counseling. I have great guilt that, as a single parent, I was not more aware.

Perhaps your warning single parents of this peril could prevent more of this awful danger. As a single parent, what should (I) we be on the lookout for? -- HEARTSICK

DEAR HEARTSICK: You obviously did not know the man well enough to be aware of how dangerous he was. No one (man or woman) should leave a child (boy or girl) with a person one knows only superficially.

A good way to judge a person's character is by the company that person keeps. Beware of the new friend who has no friends, relatives or co-workers.

Also, how good is that person's word? If you catch him in a little lie, chances are he will lie about more important things.

Before living with someone, you should know that person very, very well.

DEAR ABBY: Just a few more words on the dangers of wearing headphones while jogging. Joggers, especially females, need to realize how many abductions involve cars. I was recently in a personal defense class. We collected newspaper articles concerning abductions and rapes. More than half of those we found involved women being pulled off the sidewalk into cars.

Headphones keep a jogger from realizing that a car has pulled up beside her until it is too late to react. Listening to music also can take the jogger's mind off her surroundings. A car that is "stalking" her may have passed her four or five times, and she wouldn't notice.

Along the same lines, I would encourage anyone, male or female, who walks or jogs alone -- especially at night -- to take a personal defense course at the local community college, YMCA, or wherever it is offered. You will learn many tips on how to minimize the risk of being abducted and/or raped, as well as some physical defense techniques. -- A DEFENSIVE WALKER, NOVATO, CALIF.

DEAR WALKER: Another tip for anyone who walks, runs or jogs on a road or street where vehicles also travel: Walk, run or jog facing the oncoming traffic on the LEFT side of the road -- never in the same direction the cars are moving.

"How to Be Popular" is an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person. To order, send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

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