DEAR ABBY: A close friend of mine -- I'll call her Jane -- is a thief. (She is 15 and I am 14.) Although her thefts are small, I know that petty thefts can turn into big ones.
Jane steals food from snack machines at school and loose change and small bills from people's purses in town. When I tell her to stop because it's wrong, her reply is, "I can't help it -- it's in my blood. I won't take anything big."
My biggest fear is that Jane WILL steal bigger stuff, because when I first noticed her taking change, it happened maybe once a month. Then it increased to once a week. Now it happens every day.
I care about Jane. She's sweet and funny. But I don't know how to get her to stop. How can I help her? Should I tell someone? Please help, Abby. -- SCARED AND HELPLESS
DEAR SCARED: If you are present when Jane steals, you become an accessory to the crime. For your own sake, as well as hers, tell your parents. They should alert Jane's parents to the fact that their daughter has a serious problem. Also, until she overcomes her compulsion to steal, it is vital that you limit your contact with her. As it stands, she is jeopardizing not only her own reputation and future, but yours as well.
DEAR ABBY: My parents died in a car crash when I was a little boy. I am now 14 and live with my grandfather and "Uncle Paul." My grandfather isn't able to work, so Uncle Paul is the only breadwinner in our home.
The problem is, when Uncle Paul gets drunk, he physically attacks my grandfather and me. I love my grandfather and don't like to see him hurt. But I don't want us to end up on the street, either. What can I do to make my uncle be nice to us? -- BLACK-AND-BLUE IN VIRGINIA
DEAR BLACK-AND-BLUE: Your uncle's drinking is out of control. What you have described is both elder abuse and child abuse. You can get help, but only if you get into the social services system. One way to do that would be to tell a trusted teacher or counselor at school what is going on. Do it now. Please don't wait until your uncle loses control to the point that he seriously injures you or your grandfather. Please do not be afraid that you will be "out on the street." Your grandfather may qualify for a small pension, and you should be eligible for Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC).
DEAR ABBY: My son, "Justin," attends every birthday party he's invited to. I respond in advance and purchase nice gifts. When Justin's birthday came, 10 children said they were coming, but not one showed up. It broke my son's heart, and mine.
Abby, how would you handle this? -- UPSET MOM IN MANCHESTER, N.J.
DEAR UPSET MOM: I'd call each and every one of the parents involved and ask if they were aware their child had accepted your son's birthday party invitation. Let them know that 10 children did -- and no one showed up, which is very hurtful. Then stop talking and listen.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)
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