What to do when you find out your underage daughter is sexually active?

(31 Posts)
Event32 Fri 21-Jun-13 01:59:41

I am totally lost and need advice.
I am step-mum to a very beautiful 14yr old daughter. She spends week time with her mother and step-father, and comes to me and her father at the weekends and holiday times.
Earlier this year I found 'revealing' photographs of her on our family Ipad. She was bought an ipod touch for xmas, (an agreement by all the family). Little did she know that it was connected to all our home devices through the Icloud and that photos she took on her ipod would also go onto our ipad. It was a shock, underwear pictures but not naked.
We removed all her phone, ipod and computer items for a long period of time as we felt she could not be trusted or responsible. I did try to have a talk to her about why, where, who has seen them and who these photos were taken for etc..... I didn't get very far. All I could do was tell her that now we know about them, she can come to us if she needs to, we just want to protect her.
Since then I have been keeping an eye on her use of her Blackberry and monitored her using the family Ipad. My trust in her is a little shaken.
I have been in her life from a very early age and was not involved with her father until long after the divorce. Luckily I have a very strong and close relationship with her.
We have just come back from a family holiday. We allowed our daughter to use the Ipad on holiday. I picked it up for the first time this evening since we had returned and found her facebook account was still logged on. I opened up her Facebook profile as it was still logged on and looked around all her photographs and read her messages. (On a separate issue, I know she should not have a facebook account at 14. We have tried to keep her off FB but she set up her own accounts without our knowledge. Other family members alerted us to her use of Facebook and we agreed she could have one account with family members as friends so we can see what she is doing.) We hoped this would work to keep her somewhat safe, we were wrong. There were no 'lude' photographs but there were some VERY worrying messages.
It turns out she has a 17yr old boyfriend who has sent her photographs of 'himself' in various 'states' of arousal and the dialog between them would put '50 Shades of Grey' to shame! I am totally shocked and angry and hurt and worried. I have no idea how to approach this. Her mother needs to be told as well as her step-father. We need to be a united front as parents. How do we do this without pushing her away? I have totally violated all her privacy and human rights. How can we protect her without being the over-bearing bad guys and how will she ever trust us as parents now I have violated her trust by 'snooping'?
I cannot take back the 'snooping' and I am glad I did find out, as a boy of 17 SHOULD NOT be behaving this way towards a 14yr old. It started when she was 13!!!! This is against the law and how do I protect my daughter from being hurt? They say they love each other? How do I respect my child but teach her the laws and boundaries? How do I respect her choices and maybe this boy does love her? Are they mature enough to understand their actions with one another? How do I stop her hating me forever for violating her privacy?
I love her and want to protect her. If I cant stop her or even get her to be honest about it, what can I do? Am I being a bad mother if I teach her about contraception and help her stay protected for her health against HIV, STI's and pregnancy? I would never condone her having sex at 14, but if she is doing it anyway behind my back, should I try and make sure she is safe and try to teach her to look after herself?
What can I do?

frustratedashell Fri 21-Jun-13 02:12:29

I feel for you. I suspected that my 15 year old daughter was sleeping with her boyfriend or was about to. I talked to her about it and told her it would be a good idea to use contraception. She denied that they had/ intended to. But a few months later her dad came across some contraceptive pills in her room.
I was pleased she had been responsible and taken my advice. Her father was horrified but I thought it was better than getting pregnant. She's now 21 and I don't regret the decision.
Re how you get round the snooping I don't know. Sorry that's not helpful I know. Good luck

TinyDiamond Fri 21-Jun-13 03:06:03

gosh. be prepared for her to KICK OFF when she finds out. But the last few sentences of your post are exactly what you should do. if you try and stop her from seeing him it may make things worse. No, it may not be right, but pretty normal for teenage girls to be seeing older boys

EMUZ Fri 21-Jun-13 03:25:07

Bear with me on this one. At 13 I dated an 18 year old. Nothing happened except kissing and some mild groping
After that guy I was messaging a boy who was in my class at school. The lot, pictures, texts, hours of msn conversation. If anyone had found it, it would have looked awful. BUT we didnt do anything until I was 16. What it did do was kind of exploring sex in a safe ish way. We used to have phone conversations - not getting explicit but he helped me discover my own body over the phone and I vividly remember a 2hr phone call in the bath and I had an orgasm. I wasn't ready for sex but I was ready for that IYSWIM
Sorry if that was TMI but just saying although conversations and things even photos can be found for me it was just fantasy (and for him too)
Although we are 13 years later now and I'm still sleeping with him blush

EMUZ Fri 21-Jun-13 03:28:18

And yes teach her about contraception, stis, where to go for advice if she doesn't want to talk to you, how to deal if he starts to pressure her... And sorry but if she has sent photos and will do again the one piece of advice my friends always said was don't put your face in the photo (I know that goes against everything but if she is going to send them...)
Free condoms from GUM or family planning, give them to her, get her leaflets about stis. Education doesn't increase the risk of early sex but it does help safe sex

differentnameforthis Fri 21-Jun-13 06:17:28

Are they mature enough to understand their actions with one another? How do I stop her hating me forever for violating her privacy?

I got into a relationship with someone who was 21 when I was 15. Nothing ever happened (until I was 16 & then only at my instigation), because he was not like that! But at 15 I had NO idea what I was doing! I don't know how my parents thought it was OK. I mean we spent hours alone in my room, I went off with him on holiday at 15 & no one thought to bat an eyelid about it. He would have had plenty of time to do something if he was that way inclined and because I didn't know any better, I let myself be put in those situations with him & not at any one time did any one says "whooa, hold on" etc. When we did start a physical relationship & I told my mum, she didn't check I was on contraceptives, she didn't tell me that I should be using condoms to protect against STDs or just to double up to be extra safe. Infact, she said nothing!

Looking back, someone should have said something to me, to him. We didn't even know him, he was a friend of a neighbour of my now BIL (BIL had only known him a few weeks), yet he was accepted as my boyfriend by everyone (I had only known him a week at this point). Looking back, both of us (married 20yr next year) see how inappropriate it was & we would not allow this happen with our dds.

I NO idea what I was doing, or that I should be careful of the situations I put myself in. That is what parents are for & mine let me down. My point here being, I was 15, your dd is 14. Teens get too caught up in stuff to see the wood for the trees & this is where parents come in.

I would NOT want my 13yr old daughter receiving naked pictures from an 17yr old! If she has been sharing her pictures with anyone (on fb for example - which she could have excluded YOU from seeing), she could be considered as sharing inappropriate pictures of a minor. She needs to know this could mean big trouble.

She cannot be trusted op & you need to be keeping a better eye on her. Don't apologise for snooping, an adult should be doing this anyway! Merely being friends with your kids on facebook/myspace doesn't do the job! There are so many privacy settings that she could be having an inappropriate conversation on her wall & you wouldn't know just by looking as her friend.

beedles17 Fri 28-Jun-13 10:47:15

if she came into my gp surgery with a 17 year old boyfriend I would not report them as the age gap is not inappropriate,assuming there were not special needs , etc. offer support and contraception, recommend the implant or injection as teenagers rubbish at taking pills!

LouiseSmith Wed 03-Jul-13 18:01:00

beedles17 - She is 14, he is 17. The age gap is not only inappropriate it is illegal!!! He can consent legally, she can not. Its statutory rape. What is the world coming to...

Branleuse Wed 03-Jul-13 18:04:40

I would make sure she was using adequate contraception and take her to get the pill and condoms from the FPC. I dont think this is a battle you can win

gamerchick Wed 03-Jul-13 18:17:18

Sadly once they start they are neigh on impossible to stop. When I found out my kid was at it, I frog marched her for the implant.

Let her mother know and deal with it from there. She needs education and protection so she knows of full consequences.

As for snooping. Mine were told in no uncertain terms that I would look when and where I could. I did and still do and deal with it accordingly.

I don't think it would hurt to have a word with the boy.. it's a shame you didn't message him on her account after reading and letting him know that you had seen what had been going on in the conversation.

cakebaby Tue 16-Jul-13 22:21:27

Louise if in the UK, it is NOT statutory rape, the female would have to be under 13 rape to apply. It is sexual activity with a child.

Youngmother0011 Thu 22-May-14 03:19:51

For all of the parents involved it was inappropriate for you to allow the girl to date the 17 year old boy. What did you expect? Start with cutting off the boy and girl

grumpasaur Sat 31-May-14 00:23:08

Op, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but your daughter is unfortunately just being a pretty normal 14 yo these days!

Also it's not stat rape... Complicated legal explanation, but it isn't because he is under 18.

I work in sexual health with 13-24 year olds. The best thing you can do is as follows:

Make sure she is on contraception (reliable) and that she is also using condoms to protect herself from STIs

Make sure she has a full sexual health screen now, and then regularly every 12 months

Make sure she understands that photos can be shared, and that is illegal for her to be sending photos of herself. As she is Under 16, even though they are photos of herself, this is technically classes as distributing child pornography

Finally, and most importantly- talk to her about the relationship. Make sure she is safe and feels comfortable saying no when she wants to, and that she is not being exploited (it doesn't sound like she is).

Make this a positive bonding experience that results in trust and safety- rather than a shame inducing experiencing that breaks your trust with her, and leaves her without the information she needs right now

itsbetterthanabox Sat 31-May-14 00:42:43

Tell her parents. Have they not already talked to her about contraception and safety? If not do it now! Have the boy and girl actually met? Or is this all online? Discuss it with her and let her know the risks etc. speak to the boy. Tell him he is acting inappropriately, this may help a great deal if he sees that he is taking advantage.

WaitMonkey Sat 21-Jun-14 10:45:24

Have you told her parents ?

unrealhousewife Wed 02-Jul-14 12:41:03

Get your legal facts, sit her down and explain the law. Then explain why these laws evolved.

The human body isn't fully grown until 18 for a start.

Also explain to her the psychology of teenage boys, what hormonal pressures they are under.

I have told my own that the human body is designed to procreate and replicate itself as much as possible, regardless of the consequences. in performing this function and it affects your mind as well as your body so be aware that what's behind their feelings of love and lust is often just barefaced human biology.

tiredgranny Thu 24-Jul-14 01:00:24

the photos would worry me her b/f could pass pics on would be classed as child ponography and b prosecuted and put on sex offender register.

big article in papers saying about this

Lightshines Thu 24-Jul-14 01:36:30

Grumpasaur - I am not in the OP's situation but have thought about what I would do if it arises.
Thank you for your informed, practical and sensitive advice. I have filed for future reference.
The wisdom of MNers never fails to impress me.

Maryz Thu 24-Jul-14 01:51:40

You should post this in teenagers.

Sadly, this isn't unusual. It seems to be the norm these days that children (as in teenagers under 16) have relationships that include sending naked photographs to each other and exchanging very sexually charged messages.

I think a lot of 14/15 year olds are having sex. Personally if she was my dd I would want her to be using contraception, but it's up to her mother and father (not you) to talk to her about this.

I'm in Ireland where the law is very different from the UK and I have pointed out to all my children that if an underage girl has sex with an overage boy, he is liable to be found guilty of assault and put on the sex offenders' register. It is worth exploring the legal situation with you sd, and pointing out to her that if her mum found out and decided to prosecute the bf, he could be in very serious trouble.

MrsAtticus Thu 24-Jul-14 02:41:41

I thought about your dilemma from the point of view as a parent and didn't know what to say. Then I remembered that i was sexually active at that age (with boys that age and above) and here's what i wish my parents had done:
-made sure the channels of communication were open
-tried to restrict my social activity to some degree, to make it less likely I would find myself in difficult situations (e.g. no overnight parties)
-explained to me that sex has emotional as well as physical consequences, it took me a long time to forgive myself for my behavior, it was only really once I was old enough to look back at my 14 year old self and realize I was a child that I did.
-instilled in me some self-respect and awareness of boundaries.

That's a tall order I think, but I would aim for that, as opposed to coming down like a ton of bricks IYSWIM. A lot of course will depend on her maturity, which can vary such a lot at that age.

mathanxiety Thu 24-Jul-14 03:03:38

He doesn't love her. He loves his dick.

Tell her about revenge porn. Ask her how a young woman might feel if such a thing were to happen to her.

WhatsGoingOnEh Mon 04-Aug-14 19:40:32

Would it really be a good idea for girls as young as 14 to be on hormonal contraception? I'm not a doctor but it seems a bad idea to use hormonal contraception at such a young age.

morethanpotatoprints Mon 04-Aug-14 19:48:37

I would inform the Police and let them deal with it tbh.
Unless her mum and dad are going to get together and agree on boundaries and rules then there's little you as a step parent can do about it.
Your dh and the girls mum need to sort this and if it involves the Police then they can give her the info she needs and might take this from them.
the same happened with my niece, the same ages as well. The boy was prosecuted for grooming and niece had all her accounts stopped and lap top, phone i pad etc confiscated by Police and wasn't allowed any internet access for months until it was deemed safe.

lizhow14 Mon 04-Aug-14 22:53:21

This is so difficult as I remember being that age but I am also a parent! I was sexually active at 14/15 (about 12 years ago) with a boy the same age-we were in a relationship for 5 years until 19. I sought contraception as my parents thought if they didn't mention it, it wasn't happening! Teenagers are packed with hormones and I think for quite a few, some form of sexual activity (from snogging to intercourse) is inevitable. However, what really worries me about today's teenage generation is the technology and the half naked/sexual selfies that can be passed around friends/internet etc.
If I was in this situation with my daughter I would hope that communication was already open so that we could talk openly, me explain my fears regarding the pics, messages etc. that he could be showing all his friends and the whole of the world and to ensure she was fully aware and had contraception (and she was aware it wasn't just to protect against pregnancy but STIs). I would want her to know that consensual sex was part of healthy adult life and the importance of being in a loving relationship, waiting until ready and knowing that you can say No! I would then just hope that she could make fully informed decisions yet know that I was always there if she needed me and that she shouldn't fear speaking to me. I do not condone underage sex, yet I think teenagers will do it anyway so I would want to ensure she was fully informed, prepared and that it wasn't a taboo subject to experience as part of rebellion.
Your situation is a bit more complex as she is your step daughter-I would maybe speak to her first before going straight to parents. If after speaking to her you're still concerned that she may be at risk then I would speak to parents. It's a really difficult one as you don't want to break her trust as she may then not come to you if she needed you.

lizhow14 Mon 04-Aug-14 22:58:42

also maybe address the snooping with 'I turned the ipad on and these messages were on the screen' so it doesn't look like you have been deliberately looking at her account?

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