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by Abigail Van Buren

Neighbor Worries About Boy Who Could Be Blockbuster

DEAR ABBY: I have a big problem. I'm in my 60s and have lived in this neighborhood for 30 years.

A boy on my block has been causing a lot of trouble. I spoke to his mother, but she doesn't want to hear it. He's the type of kid who starts something and then tells his mother the other person started it. I have seen him throw rocks and break a window, and I also saw him climb into a neighbor's yard and steal a toy. The problem is, I'm the only person who's willing to speak up. The other neighbors are reluctant to deal with the mother because of the way she is.

The boy used to say things to me, but now he comes and stands in front of my house. It is very upsetting that when I'm outside planting my flowers, he's always starting something with me. I don't think I should call the police, because he hasn't hurt me.

This has been going on for four years, Abby. What should I do? I'm afraid if I keep complaining it will sound like I'm picking on the boy. His mother never watches him and he's a big problem. I know in a couple of more years, he'll be someone on the news. Help! -- WORRIED NEIGHBOR

DEAR WORRIED: Begin by documenting the incidents, and then attempt to open a dialogue with the boy's mother. Perhaps when she sees a list with dates and particulars, she will be more receptive.

If that doesn't get results, contact your local police and ask to speak with a juvenile investigator or counselor. As police departments become more community-oriented in their approach, they are more willing to intervene before a situation becomes a criminal problem. The officer will probably be willing to talk to both the mother and the boy.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I and our sons (aged 13 and 8) spent a week camping with a sister, her husband and 3-year-old daughter. During that week, my kids and I bought her daughter several little gifts, and our youngest son frequently took her along with him to camp activities.

When the week was over, my sister and her husband took our sons with them to drop them off at our father's house, where the boys were to spend the next two weeks. We gave our sister all the food we had left, but on the way when it was time for lunch, she asked our boys if they had money for lunch. When they didn't, she made them go hungry until they got to our father's. How do I know this? When I talked to my sons on the phone after they arrived, they told me what my sister had done.

I got upset with my sister because she made my children feel they were a burden. My sister thinks I'm being petty. We have exchanged some very unfriendly e-mail letters about this. Am I wrong to be upset about the way she treated my sons? -- UPSET IN OHIO

DEAR UPSET: No, you are not wrong; your sister's behavior was inexcusable. If it was a matter of money, she should have asked you beforehand to give your sons enough money to cover their lunch. Or, she should have prepared something for them to eat from the leftover groceries.

Abby shares more of her favorite, easy-to-prepare recipes. To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, More Favorite Recipes, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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