Dear Readers: Please stay with me while I revisit the situation regarding 11-year-old Caitlin and her "unusual behavior" toward her 3-year-old brother. I am grateful to my readers who picked up the ball when I dropped it. Take a look at what my mail has been like. Ouch!
Dear Ann Landers: I was surprised at your "non-advice" to the woman in Oregon who wrote about the precocious sexuality of her 11-year-old step-granddaughter. Someone has taught Caitlin sexual behavior, and the fact that she is victimizing her younger brother is a clear indication that someone is doing the same thing to her. That woman should speak to the Child Protection Services, and the sooner the better.
-- Community Health Nurse in Black River, N.Y.
From Glendive, Mont.: Caitlin's situation screams sexual abuse. You didn't even mention the possibility. That stepfather showing her photos of well-endowed males wearing brief underwear should have been a red flag. Young girls do not display that much sexual interest unless someone has taken an unhealthy interest in them.
Hacienda Heights, Calif.: About 11-year-old Caitlin, who enjoyed bathing her 3-year-old brother and often kissed him on the mouth -- look out! Eleven-year-old girls do not behave that way unless there is a reason. When I was 11, I also touched my younger nieces and nephews inappropriately. Why? Because my 14-year-old brother had been molesting me. Now, 30 years later, I'm in therapy trying to repair the damage.
Elizabeth, N.J.: Open your eyes, Ann! That stepfather is doing a lot more than showing Caitlin pictures of males in tight-fitting briefs. Where are this child's parents? I agree with you that Caitlin needs counseling. And so does her little brother.
Pittsburgh: When I read about the Caitlin situation, chills ran through me. Eleven years ago, I met the man of my dreams. He was wonderful to my children. My daughter was then 10, my son was 5. Shortly after my daughter's 18th birthday, I was shocked to see my husband's hand resting on her knee as he was helping with her homework. When I mentioned it to him, he accused me of having a dirty mind. Soon after, I found a letter he wrote to her, saying he wanted to be her first lover and teach her what love was all about. I'm sure she left that letter for me to see. It was a cry for help. I hope Caitlin is in therapy. She will need a lot of it to repair the damage.
Los Angeles: I am concerned about your response to the woman whose 11-year-old step-granddaughter was fondling her younger brother. You said she needs counseling. You are right, but you should have added that her brother needs it, too. I am a 50-year-old man who was sexually abused by my older sisters. It started when I was about 3 years old, and went on for five years. The results were devastating to me -- obesity, drug addiction, and all the problems that go with low self-esteem. I have been clean and sober for 10 years, but the memories still haunt me. The 3-year-old needs therapy now, before the damage is beyond repair.
San Diego: I knew a divorced woman who married a respected, church-going policeman who ended up molesting both her daughters. No one in the family suspected a thing. I hope the woman who wrote is taking a good, hard look at Caitlin's stepfather. His attention to the girl may not be as innocent as it seems. Someone ought to be keeping a closer eye on the situation.
Dear Readers: This is Ann talking. Once again, it appears that everybody knows better than anybody. My thanks to all who wrote.
Problems? Dump on Ann. Write her at The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y. 14240.