Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Parent Wants to Keep Teen Daughter Safe From Predators

DEAR HARRIETTE: I just watched the Lifetime series about R&B singer R. Kelly, which alleges he had sex with minors. It was horrible to watch. There were so many stories of young teenagers being abused.

I have a teenager who wants to get into the music industry, and this scared me all over again. I don’t know if the stories about R. Kelly, specifically, are true. He wasn’t convicted of these charges. I’m not so much worried about him. I’m concerned about the other predators who might be out there. How can I protect my daughter from an adult who might want to seduce her? It is so hard for teenagers to listen to their parents. -- On the Lookout

DEAR ON THE LOOKOUT: That docuseries brought to light many of the worst fears a parent has about what can happen to impressionable, hopeful young people when they are at the mercy of someone older and more powerful. As a parent, your job is to teach your teen to protect herself and to recognize when people are trying to cross the line. Experts suggest that predators are masterful at wooing innocent younger people into their clutches, so your entreaties must be clear. No touching of any kind. No late-night phone calls. No sexting or sharing of photos or suggestive commentary. No unsupervised engagements -- even in the music industry. Minors should have chaperones. As much as your teen may hate this idea, show her what’s going on in the news, including with R. Kelly, to help her know that this is serious.

Also, be aware that most sexual predators of our children are people we already know. So teach your teen to be mindful of any suspicious people in their surroundings. Do your best to build a strong rapport with your teen so that she knows that if ever she needs rescuing, at any time of day or night, you will come -- without judgment.

To learn more about what you can do to support your child and the warning signs of sexual abuse, go to: For more information on avoiding online predators, go to:

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Sex & Gender | Abuse | Mental Health | Health & Safety | Teens