DEAR ABBY: My 17-year-old niece, "Nicki," was recently diagnosed with an STD. When her mother, my sister-in-law "Cynthia," found out she was horrified. She had ignored several family members &

including me &

who had tried to warn her that Nicki was sexually active and not taking proper precautions.




Now Nicki's 14-year-old sister, "Danni," has come to me because she was afraid she was pregnant. I took her to get a pregnancy test done. Thank God, it was negative.




I think Danni should be tested for STDs, and both she and Nicki should be on birth control.




I can't get this through to my sister-in-law. Cynthia thinks I "don't understand" because I have sons, and "all I have to do is give them condoms." Yes, but I have also talked to them about sex, sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy and prevention, as well as the importance of acting responsibly.




I just want my nieces to be safe. Cynthia is living in a state of denial. How can I protect my nieces? &

CONCERNED AUNT IN NEW YORK




DEAR AUNT: Danni obviously trusts you, or she would not have come to you when she thought she was in serious trouble. It's a shame the girls don't have a closer relationship with their mother, and that she has chosen to hide her head in the sand rather than confront the obvious. Because she seems unable to talk to her daughters about sex and the responsibilities that go with it, you should.




If you feel uncomfortable talking to them about this, I have a booklet that can help you. It's called "What Every Teen Should Know," and it has been used by doctors and educators to get the message across in easy-to-understand language. It also contains sections on drugs, alcohol and date rape.




My teen booklet can be ordered by sending a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.




Your nieces must understand that having unprotected sex is not only dangerous, but could also prevent them from having children at a time in their lives when they're prepared to provide for them. It's obvious that you care about those girls. So schedule the discussion ASAP, and impress upon them that the decisions they're making now will affect their entire futures and how important it is for them to avoid the pitfalls.




DEAR ABBY: Is it rude or inconsiderate for a person to knit, crochet or piece a quilt while attending a meeting or other gathering? &

CURIOUS IN THE SUNBELT




DEAR CURIOUS: Although I may get some argument about this, I do think it's rude. When someone is attending a meeting or a social gathering, it is considered good manners to give the speaker or other attendees your full attention. And while I expect to hear from readers who say they can "multi-task," to do so sends the wrong message.




Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.