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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: You printed a letter from a scared 15-year-old girl who was being pestered by a family friend, and whose parents did not take her fear seriously.

To "Quaking in California," I would like to say: "If Sam has taken photos of you at the mall and is leaving suggestive notes on your door, he is already stalking you! Do something about it now. Go to the police and let them know your fears."

I am a convicted sex offender, and I see it as only a matter of time before this man comes after this young lady and rapes her. The police should be notified immediately. She is in my prayers. -- 'TREATED' IN MONROE, WASH.

DEAR TREATED: The girl's letter brought a flood of mail from readers who identified with it and offered advice. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Your advice fell a little short. She is worried that "Sam" might start stalking her. I've got news for you: He already is! California stalking laws are very specific, and Sam's activities would definitely qualify as such. Sam is 34 and trying to start a relationship with a 15-year-old. Last time I checked, that was illegal -- consensual or not. Being drunk is no excuse. She would be best advised to talk to the police and seek a restraining order. When looking for friends, maybe her parents should look somewhere other than the local bar. -- BRYAN IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR ABBY: I'm 32, but when I was 15, a friend of my brother's (who is 10 years older than me) started making passes at me. This went on for about two months. It ended with my being raped. The emotional scars I have dealt with; the physical scars I cover up.

Abby, "Quaking in California" has reason to be afraid. "Sam" is stalking her, and if her parents won't listen, she should take copies of the notes from her father's friend to the police. -- K.H. IN FRESNO, CALIF.

DEAR ABBY: I knew I had to write when I read the letter from "Quaking." That was me 20 years ago. I spent several years of my life afraid to attend any family gatherings. If I went, I would be afraid even to go to the bathroom for fear "Uncle Pete" would follow me. My parents thought I was an overimaginative child, too young to know what was going on.

Well, one night Uncle Pete passed out on our couch, and I woke up to find him all over me! He ripped off my clothes and I thought he was going to rape me. I managed to push him off me and scream. Uncle Pete ran out of the house and I never saw him again. My dad made sure of it!

Abby, too many parents think their children are too young to know what sexual harassment is, but they're not. Children know the feelings of shame and fear when someone makes sexual moves on them, even if they don't know what to call those feelings. But there is a name for it: sexual abuse of children.

Her instincts should be applauded, but she needs help fast. Most rapes are committed by a family friend or member, not by an unknown. Parents must teach their children not to succumb to the child predator.

"Quaking," go to your counselor or teachers, or the police. If you can't do that, find an adult you can trust -- maybe the mother of a friend. If you came to me, I would help, and there are many other good people who would, too. Good luck, and may the Lord keep you safe. -- SURVIVOR IN SIMPSONVILLE, S.C.

DEAR READERS: I regret that space limitations prevent me from printing all of the excellent letters I have received offering support and direction for "Quaking in California." However, tomorrow I will print two more -- from professionals who work with children. Stay tuned.

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, 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. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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