DEAR ABBY: Please help me to warn your readers about an alarming trend in the teenage community: prom babies. I heard about it while driving my daughter to a lacrosse meet with her girlfriends. One girl in the car, "Carrie," said she hoped this year she could have a prom baby. The girls were discussing two former classmates who had been unable to begin college because they had become mothers at 17.

Both had planned to get pregnant on prom night - hence the term, "prom baby" - to avoid the pressures of going to college.

Please warn parents to talk with their children about the responsibilities of premarital sex and the dangers of a prom baby.

- Worried Dad in Alpharetta, Ga.

DEAR WORRIED DAD: In addition to talking to their kids about premarital sex, parents should also be reminded how important it is that their daughters be able to communicate openly with them.

The individuals who should be warned are the young men who will escort those young women on prom night.

DEAR ABBY: I have a 4-year-old who tends to act up from time to time. I have tried "time-outs" and have taken away his privileges, to no avail. However, I have found that smashing one of his small toys with a hammer works well. Do you see any danger in this form of punishment?

- Young Mom in Oklahoma

DEAR YOUNG MOM: I certainly do. Smashing a child's toy carries the same message that an abusive husband delivers when he smashes his fist through a wall. It implies, "You're next!"

Take the toy away if that's the only way to get through to your son. But do not destroy the toy in front of your child. *