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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Over the past few years, I have noticed more and more reports of young people -- some barely into high school -- who seem to have no higher goal in life than making babies of their own.

Those I've talked to don't seem to realize how much tougher it will be to go on to college and take up a career while also having to care for a child. They don't believe that life can bring them anything better than their current situation and think that having babies is their only option.

Abby, for all its faults, this is still a great country we live in, filled with opportunities for those able and willing to take advantage of them. Getting a good education and NOT having kids when you're young is a step in the right direction. Without the responsibilities of parenthood, young people have the freedom to travel, gain more life experience, and then are able to share these with their children as they grow up.

Please keep spreading the word, Abby. Having kids is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. -- STEVE IN MINNESOTA

DEAR STEVE: That's true. Professionals who work with young adults have observed that those who start a family during their teen years tend to see no possibility of a brighter future ahead. Conversely, teens who understand that a higher education and a career that pays more than minimum wage are possible for themselves are more inclined to postpone childbearing.

So, you see -- hope is a most effective contraceptive!

DEAR ABBY: I read your column most every day and enjoy it very much. I must tell you about an obscene telephone call I received about 8 o'clock one morning. There was heavy breathing and then a deep voice said, "I want your body." To which I replied, "Have you seen it lately?" The caller hung up immediately, never to call again. -- GINGER IN VENTURA, CALIF.

DEAR GINGER: Your letter broke me up. However, in a more serious vein, my readers should take note of the following:

DEAR ABBY: I feel that your compliment to "Frankly Boring" on how she handled her obscene telephone caller warrants further examination.

First of all, she played right into the caller's hands by inviting conversation. Next she informed the caller that she was the only adult in the house. Then she implied that she was lonely, being "cooped up with two kids under the age of 4."

As a retired police officer and author of the "Domestic Violence Survival Guide" (Looseleaf Law Publications Inc., Flushing, N.Y.), I advise readers to HANG UP IMMEDIATELY and REPEATEDLY whenever they receive a bogus phone call.

Even with automatic redial, a caller will tire of trying to bait someone who refuses to be baited. Hope this helps. -- CLIFF MARIANI, HUDSON, FLA.

DEAR CLIFF: You're right. The woman did disclose too much personal information about herself and her circumstances, and it could have led to an escalation of her problem. Fortunately, however, her unorthodox solution worked because she never heard from the caller again. Victims of obscene callers should take note of your advice -- it was more carefully thought-out than mine.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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