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by Abigail Van Buren

Sex and Drug Education Is Needed Now More Than Ever

DEAR ABBY: When I was a young teen, my mother gave me a copy of your booklet "What Every Teen Should Know." She left it on my bed for me to read at my own pace, and let me know that I could come to her if I had any questions, when I was ready to ask them.

For years that booklet served as a reference guide for me. I also lent it to many of my friends whose parents were not so forthcoming with this important information. Being informed and not believing urban myths made a big difference in our decisions -- and we're all doing well now.

A decade later, I often work with teens who have received no comprehensive education about sex, drugs, or the impact of decisions they make during adolescence. Your booklet remains an important tool in these kids' educations. I write to encourage all parents, grandparents and relatives of teens to keep a copy of this booklet handy -- and to thank those who have already done so. -- KRISTEN WOYTONIK, DOVER, N.H.

DEAR KRISTEN: Thank you for your endorsement of my teen booklet. I am pleased that you continue to find it useful. Today many young people engage in adult activities at a much earlier age than the teenagers of previous generations. That's why it is so important for parents to take the initiative and discuss alcohol, drugs, sex and FAMILY VALUES with their children well before nature takes over and they start experimenting.

My teen booklet contains answers to commonly asked questions such as: How old must a girl be before she can get pregnant? Can a girl get pregnant the first time she has sex? What time of the month is a girl 100 percent safe? How old must a boy be before he can father a child?

Another important topic covered is HOW TO AVOID DATE RAPE AND WHAT TO DO IF IT HAPPENS. To order "What Every Teen Should Know," send your name and address, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.

My teen booklet also contains information on contraception and sexually transmitted diseases and how to recognize them. It has been distributed in doctors' offices and used to promote discussion by educators and religious leaders, and is often used by parents who find it difficult to discuss sex with their children.

DEAR ABBY: My niece is being married -- again. This will be No. 5. What kind of gift would you suggest? I am out of ideas, as I'm thinking she already has everything. The wedding is in a few months. Help! -- STUMPED IN RENO

DEAR STUMPED: After the second -- or third -- wedding, one would think the marriage would be a quiet, low-key affair. And because you have already given her four wedding gifts, what you should send her is your good wishes for a long and successful marriage.

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