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Thirteen-Year-Old Is Having Sex with Older Men

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: I am 13 years old, and one of my closest friends is having sex with older men! Not just older teens, but with college guys. I sent her an e-mail explaining to her that I am worried, and asking her to think about what I was trying to say. I don't know whether she understood or not. Is there some way I can get this through to her?

A: Thirteen is way too young to be having sex of any kind with anyone, older teens and college boys especially. Your friend is engaging in very dangerous behavior, as she is risking contracting sexually transmitted diseases and of becoming pregnant. She is also damaging her self-esteem and is at significant risk for severe emotional problems as a result of her sexual behaviors. The older boys who are having sex with her are also potentially punishable by law for rape in most states because of her age. Any older teen or college boy having sex with a 13-year-old girl is sexually abusing her, in my professional opinion.

I know that you must be very worried about your friend and you have done the right thing by trying to persuade her to reconsider what she is doing and to stop having sex with these boys. But I think it will take more than your e-mail or talking to her as a friend to stop her self-destructive behavior. You need to strongly consider talking to your parents about her behavior and a counselor you can trust. Maybe there are older sisters or brothers in her family that you can talk with. You could also offer to attend counseling with her to for support.

You know that your friend is not having sex with all these older boys because she loves them or has wonderful, respectful relationships with them. There is something seriously wrong with your friend emotionally that is forcing her to act in this inappropriate, risky, shameful, self-hateful way. You can be her friend but you can't save her from this destructive path she has taken all by yourself. Please talk with some or all of the people I suggested and also get some of your mutual friends together with her to try to find out why she is behaving like this and to tell her that you care for her too much to keep letting her do this. She may tell you that you're not her friend anymore, but you have to be brave and think of her safety and health above any hurt feelings you may get from what she tells you. Please let me know what happens. I'm hoping you can summon up the courage to tell the right adults about this because she is in big trouble that could affect her entire life.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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