Posted: Friday, October 16, 2009 8:01 pm
Dear Annie: We need your help, and the help of your millions of readers, to safeguard children. In every state, we are failing to protect children in desperate circumstances.
The numbers are staggering. Official reports show that nearly five children in America die every day from abuse or neglect. The reality is that no one knows the exact number because there are differing definitions of abuse and neglect in all the states and inconsistent record-keeping. Experts say the real number is likely much higher.
As many as half of all children who died from abuse and neglect last year had previously been brought to the attention of authorities who struggle to manage caseloads that keep growing bigger — tragic evidence of a system that is “stretched too thin.”
On Oct. 21, child advocates, celebrities, pediatricians, teachers, social workers, law enforcement officers and others are going to Capitol Hill to raise awareness about the growing number of children who are dying from child abuse. We need to make this issue a national priority. Your readers can send a letter to their congressman in support, and will find more information on the We Can Do Better initiative at www.everychildmatters.org. Sincerely — Michael Petit, President, Every Child Matters Education Fund
Dear Michael Petit: Thank you for the opportunity to remind our readers that we each have an obligation to protect children from abuse. Those who do not know the name of their congressman can contact writerep.house.gov and send an e-mail directly in support of We Can Do Better.
Dear Annie: What is the proper way to respond when someone phones and asks for you? For example, when I have a phone call and the caller asks, “May I speak to Mary?” is it proper to say, “This is she”? Is it better to say “Speaking” or “This is Mary”?
I have asked a number of people, but I get varying replies. — Confused in Riverside, Calif.
Dear Riverside: How nice that you wish to reply properly. All of your suggested responses are perfectly fine. Feel free to give them each a turn.
Dear Annie: I would like to respond to “A Sad Mom,” whose daughter has herpes.
A couple of years ago, I became infected by a partner who was dishonest. Until then, I was a healthy 22-year-old single woman. My first outbreak changed all that. I felt betrayed not only by my boyfriend, but by my own body. How could I have been so stupid? I felt disgusting. I thought no one would ever want to be with me unless they, too, had herpes, and I wouldn’t want to interact with “those people.”
Then one day, I broke down and cried to one of my best guy friends. He told me he had a girlfriend with herpes and it was no big deal. It made me realize that great guys would date someone with herpes. I realized I wasn’t alone, that people didn’t think I was worthless. And “those people” are one out of every five people I meet.
I have been rejected, and yes, it hurts. But I have also accepted that it is my potential partner’s right to choose for himself whether he wants to take on the risk. I wish my ex had had the same courtesy for me.
Two years ago, I met someone, and when our relationship seemed to be getting serious, I knew I had to tell him. It was one of the hardest things I have done. Last April, we were married. He still does not have herpes, and we are trying to have a baby. Your love life does not end with herpes. Learn to love your body again, and don’t be afraid to let someone else love it, too. — Happy in My Skin
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 10.16.09