Annie's Mailbox: Friend's children abused

Dear Annie: My best friend, "Jayne," also is my former sister-in-law. She and my brother divorced several years ago. My brother has limited contact with their children, but I have remained close to all of them.

A few years ago, Jayne remarried. Lately, I have noticed my oldest niece has become withdrawn. She finally told me that she and her siblings are miserable. Their stepfather beats, criticizes and berates them. She said her mother stands by and does nothing. I don't believe they are being sexually abused, but I am furious at the mental and physical abuse they are enduring.

I worry that if I say anything to Jayne, it will only make matters worse for the children. I also fear her husband will convince her not to allow me to see the children, and I don't know how I would bear that. Please help.

- Just the Aunt

Dear Annie: "Remember Back When in Warren, Ohio" objected to pregnant women showing their bellies. You have got to be kidding with your response that "the pregnant body is nothing to be ashamed of or hidden."

The rest of us don't want to look at naked bodies. Appropriate apparel should always be worn in public. Do you appreciate when an obese person wears spandex? When someone who looks anorexic sports a halter top and short shorts? If a man with a beer belly and hairy chest goes without a shirt? A young child in a pool naked? If the body is nothing to be ashamed of, why don't we just live in one big nudist colony?

These are all normal bodies, but that doesn't mean we should have to look at what should be saved for their significant others. Sometimes leaving something to the imagination can be a good thing.

- Tired of Explaining It

to My Young Son

Dear Tired: "Warren's" main objection was pregnant women who wear tight clothing. You've added those who are obese, anorexic and hairy, and naked toddlers. We agree that people should dress appropriately when in public, but we are not going to get bent out of shape with people who don't live up to your beauty standards. Get real.

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