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How do you help your child navigate this complicated world? The groups themselves aren't necessarily a problem-they give teens the opportunity to develop friendships with lots of people, and they take away the strangeness that kids might feel when they're alone on a date. If a lot of kids are doing something questionable, the few who feel it's wrong may have trouble speaking up.That's where you come in: Be sure to talk to your child often about what your expectations are, whether they concern sex or drinking or relationships.The hours between and p.m., when many parents are still at work, are prime time for trouble.Researchers at the RAND Corporation have found that teens are more likely to have sex when there is less after-school supervision.
And ask your teen to think about what she would do if she weren't in a group, says Sabrina Weill, author of The Real Truth About Teens and Sex.
"Say to her, ‘If nobody was drinking a beer, would you? '" Teens aren't pairing off just in the evening; they're also hanging out together right after school.
But these days, there's even more reason for concern.
"Kids almost seem to be running the bases backward," says Marisa Nightingale, of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, referring to the new sexuality.
So if your daughter is home when you're not, show up unexpectedly on occasion or ask a friendly neighbor to check up on her.
Chances are you won't hear the phone ring-and you won't get to chat (even briefly! Tami Beck, a mother of two in Shawnee, Kansas, remembers when a boy came to pick up her 15-year-old daughter and called from the driveway.