What should I do if a teen shared with me that an adult asked her out?
Dear Stop It Now!,
I was at my client's house and their daughter wanted to hang in my car versus going into her new house where her mother was inspecting the contractor's job. She shared that the main contractor was strange so she would rather sit in the car with me. I asked in what way and she shared that the man was asking her out, looking at her up and down and then commenting on how much he liked her long legs and liked her, he asked for her phone number so he can contact her to hang out, invited her to see live music concert, etc. I encouraged the teen to share this with her mother when she came back to the car, but she said she would share it with her that night. She did, and now the parents are very upset and want to report it to the police. The daughter feels scared because the man knows where they live and she will be walking to school, etc. She is scared of retaliation. Their English is not strong and they are new to this area. We are not sure what is the best way to approach it.
Dear Concerned Adult,
Thanks so much for reaching out to us with this. I’m so sorry that your client experienced this, as no child should have to be in such an uncomfortable and unsafe situation. It’s great that she was able to tell you what was going on. Moving forward, this teen should know that this isn’t at all her fault, and she did the right thing by talking with a safe adult. And though it’s so unfortunate that this happened, it’s wonderful that her parents are involved and want to take action to protect their daughter. This man’s behaviors are of course concerning; they are the types of things we look for in Behaviors to Watch For When and Adults are With Children. And, she’s lucky that you are in her life.
Planning for Safety
Though I’m not sure which agency you work with, if you are able to continue to offer support during this time then I’m sure that would make a positive impact. In particular, since this child feels comfortable with you, I’m wondering if you may be able to help the family to think about safety planning. Perhaps a plan for her walk to and from school using different routes to walk, making sure she can walk with a buddy, and even coordinating rides could be explored. The school may be a resource in helping the family to strategize about safety steps. Maybe someone at the school can check in with her in the mornings when she arrives at school to make sure nothing concerning occurred on her walk. This way, if something did come up which leaves her feeling worried or unsafe they would know about it, could communicate with her parents, and would be able to help her through whatever the next steps may be.
In thinking about what else this family may be facing it sounds like they may really benefit from some help in navigating the reporting process. Certain communities have special advocates who work in the court and are able to offer guidance to families. Other local resources, like ESOL services, accessible legal help, and general family advocacy organizations may also be great options. As you mention their English isn’t strong, think about how they may be able to access a translator when they are making this report. There may be a local resource which provides this service, this community’s police department may be able to offer a translator, or their daughter’s school system may have access to a translator who is also able to help school parents navigate other civic systems. Often, hospitals and local universities are also able to connect individuals with language interpretation services. You may also want to take a look at our Reporting online guide for other helpful resources and information to help these parents in what they may encounter if they choose to report to the police.
It’s understandable that this teen doesn’t want her parents to report this. In addition to addressing her concerns about safety, this is a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate to her that adults will act to protect youth – that it’s their job. Unfortunately, this man is likely inappropriate and perhaps even harmful with other young people. Your client might benefit from knowing that her parents are possibly preventing other young girls and women from being harassed or even abused.
Stop It Now!
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Last edited on: November 7th, 2018