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Dear Annie: Witnesses of Abuse

Dear Annie: My daughter and I have witnessed aggressive acts in public areas and are at a loss as to what, if any, action we should take. The most recent example was when we watched a man yelling at what appeared to be his significant other. He grabbed her by the arm, forcefully placed her in the car and buckled her seat belt. Then he went into the store, and she sat there, not moving and keeping her head down. We wanted to approach the woman and ask whether she was OK, but we feared he was watching from the store. Another situation involved a young child between the ages of 3 and 5 with a cast on his arm. His guardian grabbed him by the other arm and threw him into the back seat of the car. There have been other situations, as well.

What does one do or say without making the victim’s life even worse later when the victim and abuser are out of sight? Each time, we looked for a police officer, but none was around. Annie, this just breaks our hearts, but what does a bystander do? - Tears and Fears for the Victims All Over

Dear Tears: You were right to want to act. If you see such violence, you should call 911 immediately or find a police officer. Our justice system values and supports citizens speaking up when they see someone in danger, and there are laws in place to protect those who do so. These Good Samaritan laws protect these honorable citizens from legal liability should their good intentions have unintended consequences. Familiarize yourself with the laws in your state.

As Albert Einstein said, the world will be destroyed not by those who do evil but by those who watch them without doing anything. By standing up for what you know is right and defending people who aren’t in a position to defend themselves, you are saving the world, one good deed at a time.

Dear Annie: My sister-in-law is organizing a family vacation at a beach house, supposedly to celebrate my daughter’s engagement. My daughter doesn’t want to go, and the trip comes at a time when we will be really busy. The trip feels more like a getaway for the other family members than an actual celebration for my daughter. How can we stop this madness? - Feeling Awkward

Dear Awkward: That’s odd indeed. If it’s really your daughter’s party, then she can call it off if she wants to. She should tell her aunt that she really appreciates the thought but the timing just won’t work - and that she hopes they’ll enjoy the getaway themselves all the same. I have a feeling they will.

Dear Annie: Your response to “Carol in Florida” regarding her experience with a person who got way too close while she was interacting with pharmacy staff was on the mark but left out an important detail. This fellow’s behavior was probably a HIPAA privacy violation, and the staff member should have immediately recognized it as such and taken steps necessary to stop this intrusion. If Carol believes that her privacy was breached, she may wish to file a complaint. This can be done at https://www.hhs.gov. In my opinion, the person most in the wrong here was the assistant pharmacist for doing nothing. He or she needs to brush up on HIPAA rules. - Minnesota Pharmacist of 42 Years

Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.