Life Advice



Ask Amy: Unreliable parent leaves guilty legacy

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Sadly, you will not receive this nurturing from your mother. She cannot give what she does not have. Learning to release your own expectation (without guilt) will be liberating for you.

You would benefit from connecting with others through an Adult Children of Alcoholics group. Check for information and meetings.

Dear Amy: I am responding to the question in your column from “Guilty Bystander,” written by an adult who had become aware of a rumor regarding a male teacher from her high school who’d had a sexual relationship with an underage female student.

As the retired head of Health Education of a large urban capitol city school system in the United States and with more than three decades of teaching in my resume, I can unequivocally agree with your advice to Bystander, who posed the question about their role in reporting what might prove to be a serious, life-changing criminal act.

If the horrific treatment of our Team USA gymnasts has taught us anything, I would hope we begin to learn that it is everyone’s responsibility to speak up.

These vulnerable girls and young women were abused over the course of many years by a monster, and they were not protected by any institution, including FBI investigators.

If you don’t speak up, you are part of the problem rather than the solution.

– A (former) Mandated Reporter


Dear Reporter: None of the gymnast survivors of Dr. Larry Nassar’s abuse consented to this behavior, while the implication from “Guilty Bystander” was that this (rumored) sexual relationship between teacher and underage student was thought to be consensual.

However, as I pointed out in my answer, there is a reason the law supports a legal age of consent. The power differential between adult and underage person – or teacher and student – can very easily lead to exploitation.

I’ve heard from many people expressing concern about the rights of a teacher who might be wrongfully accused. I understand this concern, but adults have the duty to report, and institutions must investigate.


(You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

©2021 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.




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