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Behavior Needs To Be Addressed

Fri., Nov. 21, 1997

Dear Ann Landers: You recently printed a letter from a California woman, who complained that a neighbor boy used binoculars to spy on her while she sunbathed in the nude. You said the boy is not violating any law. This is incorrect.

A number of years ago, I discussed this very problem with an Ohio attorney. “Peeping Toms” are committing a misdemeanor and can be fined up to $500 and serve up to 60 days in jail. The offense includes trespassing or surreptitiously invading the privacy of another, to spy or eavesdrop, with the purpose of sexually arousing or gratifying oneself. “Trespass” is not confined to the physical boundaries of the victim’s real estate. It includes the use of binoculars, telescopes, camcorders, tape recorders, stethoscopes and even a water glass held against a hotel wall.

Behavioral specialists say that voyeurism is often a precursor to more dangerous and potentially violent forms of self-arousal. That boy needs professional counseling. - Legal Eye in Richmond, Va.

Dear Richmond: Thank you for the information. Although laws vary around the country, we also heard from an attorney in California who said that boy is violating state law and the woman should seek legal advice.

Your suggestion of professional counseling was a good one. The lad’s inappropriate behavior and his parents’ unwillingness to control him do not bode well for his future.

Dear Ann Landers: I just read the letter from “Pat in Avon, Ind.,” about the caged dog next door. My neighbor’s dog is tied on a short leash, day and night, to a shack in the corner of their backyard. He barks incessantly, and it really gets to me. That poor creature is ignored, except when the owners hit him for no reason. Like Pat in Avon, I approached my neighbors about this cruel and inhumane treatment and was told to shut up and mind my own business.

You advised Pat to call the humane society. Well, Ann, I called the ASPCA and was told that as long as the dog is provided with food, water and shelter and receives medical attention when needed, the organization can do nothing.

Something must be done to change the law so these defenseless animals can be helped. What do you suggest? - Dog Lover in N.Y.

Dear Dog Lover: The only way a law can be changed is to let your state legislators know you want them to do something about a law that is clearly unjust. Urge your friends and neighbors to join you in this crusade. I wish you luck.

Dear Ann Landers: I realize that public gum-cracking is not as life-threatening as smoking, but it is extremely annoying. I am tired of sitting in theaters and having my entertainment ruined by these infernal gum crackers. Ditto for clerks in stores who crack gum in your face and gum-cracking telephone receptionists who drive you crazy when they answer. The same goes for passengers using public transportation.

Gum crackers, like smokers, don’t have the slightest idea that they are irritating. I sympathize, as they probably have oral needs that are very real. However, the public has rights, too.

Will you please support a national campaign to urge people to stop cracking gum in other people’s faces. Thank you. - Michael H. Agranoff, attorney, Stafford Springs, Conn.

Dear Michael Agranoff: While gum-cracking is annoying, it is hardly a life-or-death issue. If I am going to support a national campaign, it will have to be something a bit more substantive.

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