Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

DEAR ABBY: I don't know what to do. This morning I found out that I am pregnant. I haven't told my parents, because I'm scared of their reaction. It's so hard. What are my options? -- ALONE AND TERRIFIED IN COLUMBUS, GA.

DEAR TERRIFIED: You may feel alone right now, but you aren't. If it is at all possible, confide in your mother or another trusted female adult right away. Do not waste any time. You need more support right now than I can give you in this column.

If there is no adult you trust enough to tell, your next best option is to contact Planned Parenthood. The caring and understanding staff will confirm whether or not you are pregnant. They will then explain all of your options to you. They also provide excellent low-cost prenatal care. Planned Parenthood is listed in your phone book.

DEAR ABBY: My 7-year-old, "Richie," attended a birthday party today. Pizza and cake were served, and goodie bags were handed out at the door as the kids left. In the car, on the way home, Richie opened his and found inside a thank-you note from the birthday boy which read, "Thanks for coming to my party and thanks for the great present!"

Abby, I was shocked. My son repeated the words, "Great present? Mommy, he didn't open his presents during the party. How could he know what I gave him was great?"

After my kids' parties, we sit down together and write an individual thank-you card for each gift, and in it my son mentions the particular present. Sometimes we even enclose a photo of the child taken at the party.

In the past, we have received e-mail thank-yous, but never one in a goodie bag sent home the day of the party. Is this tacky or a sign of the times? No name or location, please. We live in a small town. -- OFFENDED IN THE U.S.A.

DEAR OFFENDED: The parent who came up with the idea of a generic thank-you did her son no favor. Writing a gracious thank-you note is an acquired skill -- one with which every child should become familiar as soon as he or she can hold a pen or pencil.

It doesn't have to be long or fancy, but it must be personal and sincere.

DEAR ABBY: The letter from "Safety Conscious in Northern California," who observed a young child left alone in a car and told another mother instead of calling the police, reminded me of how a friend of mine handled a similar situation.

While driving to work, she saw a child of kindergarten age sitting alone at a bus stop. This went on for several days and she couldn't get him out of her mind, so she decided to take action.

One morning, she stopped her car at the bus stop and asked the boy to give his parents a note. The note said, "I am not a pervert, but I got close enough to your little boy to give him this note. Next time, you might not be so lucky!"

The next morning, and every morning thereafter, that child's mother was waiting with him at the bus stop. -- LOVING KIDS IN OKLAHOMA

DEAR LOVING KIDS: Your friend is an excellent communicator. She sent a message the boy's mother will never forget.

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.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600

More like Dear Abby