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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: You have stated that when a child feels unable to talk to his or her parents about a serious problem, the young person should confide in a trusted adult. However, I am confused about something: When a teen-age girl goes to that adult, is the person supposed to keep her secret or intercede with her mother for her?

What if the girl chooses to talk to a friend of her mother's and the mother finds out? It could destroy the friendship between the two women because one of them withheld the truth. On the other hand, if the adult tells the girl's mother, she has betrayed the girl's confidence.

What should a responsible adult do? -- KEEPING SECRETS IN CHICAGO

DEAR KEEPING SECRETS: Either keep the confidence or offer to talk to the mother with the girl present. That way, no one's confidence is betrayed. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I was in the same situation as "Sue in Pennsylvania," except I was the unmarried teen-age daughter who told my mother's best friend, "Kassie," I was pregnant. I was afraid to tell my parents. Kassie offered to tell them for me. I was with her when she did it. It wasn't easy -- but it would have been a lot harder without Kassie's emotional support.

My parents were hurt that I couldn't tell them on my own. But they couldn't have been more supportive during my pregnancy. My mother and Kassie were in the delivery room when I had my beautiful baby girl. I will be grateful to my parents and to Kassie for the rest of my life for being there when I needed them most. -- LOVED DAUGHTER IN VIRGINIA

DEAR LOVED DAUGHTER: Love is what enables us to bridge the gap of disappointment when others don't live up to the expectations we have of them.

DEAR ABBY: A while back you printed a letter from a woman who said her boyfriend had not shown up for their planned vacation together. She left messages on his answering machine, but he never returned the calls. You told her she should consider herself lucky to have found out he had a "seven-year itch" before they married.

I am a policeman, and I see it differently. She should have called the police department in the city where her boyfriend resides. The police would have driven by his residence and knocked on his door to make sure he had not had an accident that would keep him from answering his phone.

Police in every city will do "welfare checks" for anyone who is worried about a friend or loved one. It could make the difference between life and death. -- COP IN ALABAMA

DEAR COP IN ALABAMA: You're right. It could. I checked with the Los Angeles Police Department and was informed that this is part of their community service, too. Your solution is better than the one I offered.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Sophie Tucker once said, "Success in show business depends on your ability to make and keep friends," to which I would like to add: "Success in ANY business depends on your ability to make and keep friends."

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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