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by Abigail Van Buren

Young Teen Acting Out Needs to Find New Role

DEAR ABBY: I am writing regarding my almost 13-year-old daughter. She's a sweet girl but lately has been involved in a lot of drama. Recently my husband and I saw what we believe to be two hickeys on her neck, one on each side. She has denied, denied, denied it, but we know what we know.

I'm worried because a few months ago she was called into her counselor's office for "roasting." She was asked to roast two specific girls, and the information got back to them and back to the counselor. Our daughter is not allowed to date, and although she has friends who started dating at 10 or 11, I don't allow her to go to their homes. I do allow them to come to our home instead.

I just need to know how to handle this situation before it gets out of control. I have tried talking calmly and patiently with her, but it doesn't work. She believes she knows it all and I know nothing. -- UNSURE IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR UNSURE: Girls who mock others and say cruel things are less "nice" than you would like to believe. It's a form of bullying. You need to nip this in the bud. A way to handle your daughter's misbehavior would be to institute consequences for getting called to the counselor's office and/or lying to you and your husband. By consequences, I mean the removal of privileges -- cellphone, television, internet, or having friends over for a period of time.

Also, if your daughter is coming home with hickeys, she may have too much unsupervised time on her hands. So if you haven't already, involve her in supervised activities such as church youth groups, sports and special-interest clubs if her school offers them. If she's going to a friend's house, be sure an adult will be there.

Parenting is a full-time job. In time your daughter will mature and this, too, will pass. But for now she needs watching.

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