May 23, 2019

Abby and ‘age appropriate’

The Bangor Daily News touts itself as a family-owned paper. It’s unfortunate that the BDN doesn’t also pride itself on being a “family friendly” paper.

As my family eats breakfast together we all take our favorite sections of the paper. My 7-year-old daughter goes right to the comics. Her 5- and 3-year-old brothers are often leaning across the table asking her to read particular comics to them. Not once, but twice this week, Dear Abby, nestled in right under Beetle Bailey and next to For Better or For Worse, Wizard of Id and Zits, featured lead letters of a sexual nature.

As my daughter’s reading improves and her curiosity grows, it is only matter of time before she also wants to read Dear Abby. Often she will ask me to explain a comic that she doesn’t understand or get the joke. If she had read Dear Abby today I would have had the pleasure of explaining a man’s “one night stand with his brother’s girlfriend” and a “threesome.” Letters of this sort are frequently the lead letter in Abby’s column. I have written once before asking the editor to consider moving Dear Abby to a more appropriate part of the paper – the lifestyle section would be an obvious choice. I received no response and nothing has been done. So I will ask again. Would you want your 7-year-old reading Dear Abby alongside the comics?

Ian Shearer


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