DEAR ABBY: I would like to comment on the letter from "Victorious in Oregon," the woman whose young daughter and niece made adult entertainment telephone calls amounting to $260. She was fortunate that, by law, she was not obligated to pay for the calls, but there are other issues involved.
The girls were old enough to know they were doing something wrong, and I assume they were punished. But I still think the charges were legitimate. Parents should be financially responsible if their children break the law (i.e. commit vandalism).
Children must be taught that actions have consequences for which they must take responsibility. Years ago, when my daughter was a teen-ager, she was careless about guarding her telephone calling card PIN number, and a friend of hers used the calling card without permission to make $50 worth of calls.
Neither of us knew the source of these charges, and the telephone company was willing to remove them from our bill. When we figured out the identity of the caller, I asked the phone company not to deduct the charges, and my daughter paid them.
It was an expensive lesson for her, but an important one. Today she is a thoughtful, responsible adult -- not that she wouldn't have been had I paid the charges or allowed them to be deducted. -- LYNN B., FOUNTAIN VALLEY, CALIF.
DEAR LYNN: I agree that children should be taught the consequences of their actions -- and I'd be surprised if the children involved in making those phone calls didn't receive a severe lecture and grounding for their mischief. Styles of discipline vary from family to family, and making the girls foot the bill seemed excessively strict to me since it was a first offense.
I am aware that there are more issues involved than whether the parents should have been liable for the phone bill the girls ran up. The children seem to have a lot of unsupervised time on their hands, which in this case they used to satisfy their curiosity about sex. "Victorious" is overdue for a frank discussion with the girls about sex. Now that the hassle with the phone company has been settled, she should turn her attention to enrolling the girls in after-school activities such as music, sports or special-interest clubs, so their minds will be occupied with more wholesome things than X-rated adult entertainment.