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          Teenagers, Sex and Privacy

          September 09, 2002

          If you’ve found out by accident — or by snooping — that your teen is having sex, you probably have concerns about pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. If you fear confronting your child because you violated his/her privacy, Dr. Phil has advice:

          • If you know your child is in harm’s way, you can’t ignore it, no matter how you came up with the information.

          • You would give your child the same advice whether he/she admitted to it or not. You can say something like, “I watch you with your girlfriend, and you may be close to doing something — you may have already. Here is my advice …”

          • The gravity of violating your child’s privacy is not insignificant, but it pales in comparison to having your child pregnant.

          • You can let the other child’s parent know about the situation without disclosing how you came upon the information. You can pick up the phone still respecting everybody involved, and say, “I don’t know about you, but I’m concerned about where these kids are.” It is your duty to disclose pertinent information to the other child’s parent.

          • Your children need to be concerned and educated about sex. Start talking about it early and keep the door open for discussion.

          • You're not going to stop your child from having sex, but you can enlighten him/her about the emotional consequences. Don't think it means you're endorsing it, you're just educating them.

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