Warning Signs

How do you tell the difference between an adult's healthy interest in you and something you should worry about?
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What happened to me is not just a problem for girls—or even a problem that only happens between people of the opposite sex. It's also not something to live in constant fear of. Most of the adults in your life care about you and want the best for you. So how do you tell the difference between healthy interest and something you should worry about?

It's OK if an adult:

  1. Is interested in your success and wants to encourage you.
  2. Wants to help with school projects or goals, like finding an internship.
  3. Compliments your achievements or your dedication to your faith.
  4. Likes to talk with you about your life and choices, like where you're going to college.
  5. Comes to school events to support you—and your parents know it.
  6. Gives appropriate, non–sexual touch or hugs when others are around.
  7. Is your mentor—and everyone knows it.

It's not OK if an adult:

  1. Singles you out for special attention that no one else knows about.
  2. Tells you secrets about his or her life or marriage.
  3. Talks to you about sexual matters, touches you in a way that makes you uncomfortable or flirts with you.
  4. Wants to meet you somewhere alone (privately, or in a public place where no one knows you).
  5. Sends mixed messages about the meaning of your relationship.
  6. Threatens to use his or her authority to make you do things you don't want to or to force you to keep secrets.
  7. Treats you differently when other people aren't around.
  8. Does anything that makes you uneasy or that your parents would be uncomfortable with.

If you're uncomfortable:

  1. Listen to that warning in your gut. Don't ignore it or try to explain it away.
  2. Tell someone who can help you—a parent or other relative, your youth pastor, a teacher, or your school counselor or social worker.
    Talk to a trustworthy adult.
  3. Stay away from this person. Change jobs or churches, or make sure someone you trust is always around.

*Author's names has been changed.

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