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Dear Abby: I’m a single mother. My two sons are practically grown and out of the house. I haven’t dated much over the years, but there was one man I did bond with and cared very much for at one point. He lived across the country, and the long-distance relationship was difficult. I was reluctant to move my kids across the country for someone I barely knew, so the relationship ended.

Thank God I followed my instinct on that one!

Feeling sentimental one evening, I went online and searched for his name. Up popped a mug shot of him posted on a Megan’s Law website, identifying him as a deviant offender. The police code indicated he was someone who had intercourse with a person younger than 13. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Now I can’t stop thinking about what might have happened had I not followed my instincts.

I’m afraid to date anyone for fear I’ll find another creep. Is there a way to “screen” prospective mates without them knowing – like a background check for daters, perhaps?

– Still Shocked in Texas

Dear Still Shocked: The way to screen someone for a criminal conviction would be to go online and search in the state the person lives in or came from. That, however, is no guarantee you won’t meet another creep.

Finding Mr. Right is a process that involves trial and error. In many cases, a lot of error. That’s why it is better to meet men through personal introductions, volunteer groups or because you have mutual interests – and even then, take your time getting to know them.

Blue candy or pink?

Dear Abby: What do new fathers hand out today instead of cigars?

– Nonsmoker in Savannah

Dear Nonsmoker: Because so much more is now understood about the dangers of tobacco, many new fathers today hand out small gift bags of candy instead – blue for a baby boy or pink for a daughter.