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by Abigail Van Buren

Teens' Three-Year Age Gap Is Cause for Adult Concern

DEAR ABBY: I am 19, and I like a girl who is 16, "Cheri." My friends and family think we're dating, and now one of my teachers and the school officer think it is a problem that we are around each other. I asked Cheri's family if it was OK with them if I asked her out. Knowing how old I am, they approved.

My mom says I can be arrested for statutory rape when all I did was give her a kiss on her cheek, and Cheri was fine with it. I really like her and she means the world to me. Is there anything I can use in my defense to prove that we didn't do anything wrong? -- ON A SLIPPERY SLOPE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

DEAR SLIPPERY: I don't think anyone is accusing you of having done anything "wrong." When young men and women are attracted to each other, the relationship rarely stays static. The concern may be that an innocent kiss on the cheek may lead to something more.

That your friend's parents approve of you seeing their daughter is a plus. However, if you become sexually involved with their daughter, their feelings could easily change. While you might not be in trouble with the law in New Hampshire -- which may calm your mother's fears -- the age of consent isn't the same in every state.

Read more in: Teens | Love & Dating