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by Abigail Van Buren

Little Kids Can Mean Big Trouble in Backyard Pools

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are the proud parents of a beautiful 16-month-old daughter named Amanda. Now that Amanda is walking, we are faced with a problem. My in-laws, who are great people, have an unfenced swimming pool on their property, and my husband and I feel very uncomfortable having Amanda at their home for that reason. It takes only a few seconds for a small child to escape the watchful eyes of an adult and wander off.

I realize that putting a fence around the pool is expensive, but how can I let my in-laws know how important it is to save the life of a child -- not just any child, but their grandchild whom they adore? -- PLEASE FENCE ME IN

DEAR PLEASE: While a fence would offer a great measure of security, gates have been left open and crawled under -- so don't rely on a fence to keep Amanda safe.

There is no substitute for constant adult supervision. Do not assume that other children -- or even a trusted adult -- will watch your precious child.

Every summer I hear from heartbroken, guilt-ridden pool owners who have had a child drown in their pool. I repeat my plea to all parents to teach their children to swim, to learn all the rules of water safety, and outfit little ones with "life jackets."

And every pool owner should learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) -- just in case.

DEAR ABBY: What is happening to our society? Where is taste? What about morals, decency and modesty? What kind of examples are we setting for our children?

For example, I turned on the TV in the presence of my 11-year-old son and his 14-year-old sister, and what do we see? A sleepy-eyed, obviously naked lady in bed with a bedsheet around her, turning to her bed partner -- also naked. She asks, "What did you say your name was?"

Abby, is that the kind of message we should be sending to our young people -- that it's OK to go to bed with strangers? That's bad enough under any circumstances, but with the threat of AIDS, to make casual sex appear acceptable and commonplace is criminal.

Another thing: How about our movie stars proudly announcing that they are expecting a baby? The fact that they are not married -- and have no plans to marry at this time -- doesn't seem to bother anybody.

Also, I'm not suggesting that we go back to the days when pregnant married women took their walks at night so nobody would see them, but I am not ready to see a pregnant woman in her eighth month stark naked on the cover of a magazine.

I don't expect you to have answers for all of the above, but if this is progress, I'm for turning back the clock. -- FIFTYSOMETHING IN PHOENIX


DEAR ABBY: In a recent column, a reference was made to an "upcoming" wedding. Abby, every time I see that word "upcoming," I am reminded of this memo the late Bernard Kilgore wrote to his staff when he was the chief honcho at The Wall Street Journal:

"If I see the word UPCOMING in The Wall Street Journal once more, I shall be downcoming on someone who will be outgoing." -- S.S.M., LOS ANGELES

To get Abby's booklet "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

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