DEAR ABBY: I'm writing to you in the hope that our experience can help other families.

We all have heard horror stories of child molestation, but we think it can never happen to our children. Most literature on the subject advises that when your children are of school age, teach them that if someone tries to molest them, they should: 1) scream, kick, hit; 2) run; and 3) TELL someone.Well, don't wait until your children are that old! If your children are old enough to know where their private parts are, they are old enough to be taught that nobody should be allowed to touch those parts.

I started teaching our daughter at the age of 4. Within five months, she was molested. Unfortunately, that was not the first time. Through her therapy, we discovered that it had been going on for 21/2 years - since she was 21 months old! If I had taught her sooner, we could have stopped it sooner.

There is one more thing that I cannot stress enough. Believe your child. Children do not lie about something like this. It's a known fact that children have been molested by sitters, neighbors and trusted family members of all ages.

If this letter helps just one person, then the pain our family has suffered will not have been in vain. - ANONYMOUS, PLEASE

DEAR ANONYMOUS: I'm sure your letter will serve as a helpful "wake-up call" for any parents who think their child is too young to be taught this very important lesson. Thanks for writing.

DEAR ABBY: I am 23 years old and getting a divorce. I was very hurt by this divorce and am trying desperately to get on with my life. The problem is, no matter where I go in this small town, people come up to me and tell me the last time they saw my "ex," where they saw him, who he was with, what he was wearing, what he said, etc.

People don't mean to be hurtful; they are just trying to make conversation. They don't realize it causes me to start thinking about him all over again, and I'm trying to forget him.

Please print this, Abby. I am sure there are others who feel as I do. And, do you know a good reply that won't hurt their feelings? - HURTING IN ALABAMA

DEAR HURTING: When someone mentions his name, stop them politely with this: "Please - I'd rather not hear anything about him; he's `history.' Now what do you know that's cheerful and happy?"

DEAR ABBY: While you were on vacation, one of your reruns (about diminishing memories in older folks) brought to mind this story:

Two elderly ladies who had not seen each other in many years met one day on the street. They were both delighted, and being in front of a restaurant, one of them suggested that they go inside to visit over a cup of coffee.

They had been there several minutes when one of them said, "You know, this is rather embarrassing, but as well as I knew you, and for as long as I knew you, I can't remember your name. Please tell me. What is it?"

The other lady sat for a few moments in silence, then, in a soft voice asked, "How soon do you have to know?" - FRED IN GARDEN GROVE

Most teenagers do not know the facts about drugs, AIDS and how to prevent unwanted pregnancy. It's all in Abby's new, updated, expanded booklet, "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054. (Postage is included.)