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Dear Abby: I read your column often and find it deeply troubling when girls write you lamenting that they are “still single.” I’m 18, in my freshman year of college and I have never dated. I’m perfectly OK with this.

I’m not writing to bash girls who are in high school relationships, but rather to show there’s an alternative. Abby, please remind them that it’s fully acceptable for us to spend our teenage years single, if we prefer. No one should feel pressured into a relationship because “everyone else is dating.”

Girlfriends, if you’re not ready for dating, then focus on discovering your beliefs, your purpose and what your talents, passions and values are. If you choose to do it accompanied by a partner, that’s fine. But if you prefer to journey alone or with your friends, that’s JUST as valid.

Independent in Racine, Wis.

Dear Independent: I agree! You are a self-confident, mature young woman, and you’re delivering an important message to your contemporaries.

I hope they’ll give your message the consideration it deserves.

Dear Abby: I recently read an idea that I think should be shared with every parent in the world. You and your child/grandchild should establish a family password to be used if the child is ever approached by a stranger who says, “Your mother is sick and she asked me to come and get you.” By asking for the password, the child throws the would-be kidnapper off guard, and the child has an opportunity to flee.

Vigilant in Virginia

Dear Vigilant: That suggestion is one that appears on many child safety websites, and it’s certainly worth mentioning here. I’m sure many parents and grandparents will thank you for submitting it.

Dear Abby: I have been HIV-positive for more than 20 years and I am in good health. I never told anyone in my family about it.

I have now returned to my hometown after being away for 40-plus years. I want to tell my father and brothers that I’m HIV-positive, but I don’t want to alarm them or have them start meddling in my life. I feel like I’m lying by not telling them.

What should I do?

I’ve Got a Secret

Dear Got A Secret: Maintaining one’s privacy is not lying. Because your intuition tells you that if you disclose your HIV status to your family they will be “alarmed or start meddling,” don’t do it.

You’re in good health, your HIV is being well managed and the only person who has to know is your sex partner.

Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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