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Teenybopper Stalker

I am a 27-year-old single woman. Last year, I received a Facebook friend request from a 9th-grader from my church, Jackie. I didn’t know her very well but figured I was Facebook friends with lots of the other teens from the church, so, sure, I would accept her friend request. A day later she sent me a message saying “Hiiiiiii! You’re gorgeous!” I replied, “Well, thank you! Same to you!!” and then left my Facebook. Another day later, she messaged again just to chat about….well, nothing in particular. Our conversation consisted of me asking her questions such as, “What are you up to now that it’s summer?” her replying “Oh, I’m super busy,” but refusing to tell me anything specific. Okay, well, she’s 14, grace on her.

Well, the catch was, I discovered EVERY time I signed into Facebook or Skype (even if it was multiple times a day) she would want to talk for hours about nothing, and would get upset when I tried to politely end the conversation. I gradually stopped responding to her messages because I simply don’t have time to sit at my computer and chat for hours, especially with someone who I see face-to-face every week at church! The funny thing was, if I tried to talk to her at church she would avoid me- the other 9th-grade girls would greet me and chat with me, and she would bolt off and hide. One day when she messaged me I replied asking, “Can I take you out for coffee after school on Friday? I’ll ask your mom if it’s okay, but I’m sure she’ll say yes.” All of a sudden, Jackie claimed to be “superbusy” (superbusy doing what?? I know she isn’t in any clubs or sports…and if she’s so busy, how does she have all this time to sit around on Facebook and Skype?) and said she wouldn’t have time.

However, she continued to bombard me online- I left my computer on and unattended for several minutes and came back to find five or six missed Skype calls from her (Skype?? When we live 15 minutes apart??) and a string of messages saying, “Come talk to me!” “Come on, where are you???” “Don’t do this to me!!” “Why do you hate me? If you liked me you would talk to me!!” At this point, I sent her a gentle message telling her that I simply couldn’t sit at my computer all day and talk to her or anyone else- she was on vacation from school, but I was working and preparing to move overseas. I told her if she wanted to write me an actual letter on Facebook I would happily read it and respond as soon as possible, but that the wording she had just used in her previous messages was accusatory and manipulative. I explained that if she wanted to hang out (I assumed she was looking for a mentoring-relationship from me) face-to-face I would gladly do so, but there was no need to be constantly Facebooking or Skyping when we lived in the same town. She replied that she understood and would try to change her ways- but the bombarding messages continued.

I need to explain at this point that I had plans to go abroad for a year and do missionary work, and her favorite thing to message me about was how “hard” it would be for her when I left. For one, she barely knew me and two, it was hard enough for me to leave my home for a year; I didn’t need to be guilted about it from someone I barely knew. The hardest part before my departure was waiting on my visa, not knowing whether it would be approved, and other church friends would leave messages on my Facebook wall saying, “Praying for patience for you, hope your visa comes in the mail today!” and Jackie would post comments below them saying, “I hope it NEVER comes!!” When my visa finally came she dodged saying goodbye to me my last Sunday at church, but as soon as I was in my host country and had my computer set up, the constant messages continued. Sometimes I would be up until midnight planning for work the next day, and if I forgot to sign out of Skype she would start calling me and get upset when I didn’t answer, even if I messaged her explaining, “It’s midnight here and I’m trying to get to bed; plus my host family is asleep and I’ll wake them up if I start talking.” When my year was up, I had one week at home before moving to another state to begin post-graduate studies. I went to my church on Sunday, of course, and Jackie’s mother saw me and said, “The whole way to church she was talking about how she can’t wait to see you-” but as she was talking Jackie bolted past without acknowledging me. I sent her a message asking if I could take her out to lunch (again, I could ask her mom if it was okay) and she said she was free Tuesday. I had a LOT of people to see and things to get done during my week at home, but I cleared Tuesday afternoon, only to have her message me on Monday night saying her “allergies were superbad” and she couldn’t make it (She doesn’t have life-threatening allergies, just regular sneezing and blowing your nose- I have the same issues but I would never use it as an excuse not to see someone!) Well, glad I kept that time slot free for nothing. Then, the next day, she messages me saying, “I’ve had a really hard day. Can we Skype?” I ignored the message entirely at this point. No, I’m not going to sit around and talk to you online for hours when you refuse to talk to me face-to-face just so you can tell your friends you spent all day Skyping with a 27-year-old!

I’m not sure how to handle this at this point.  I know she’s 15, and I don’t know what it’s like to have social media at your fingertips at such a young age. Cell phones were still for emergencies only when I was 15!. But she won’t take my suggestions and I don’t know how to go to her parents with this without sounding like I’m saying, “Tell your kid to stop being so annoying!!” I’m tempted to block her on Facebook and Skype, but I’m not sure what will go down when she finds out I’m still friends with her more internetiquette-trained peers- I’m sure being blocked is a serious slap in the face for a 15-year-old. Is this the norm, now- to want to talk ALL the time online but NEVER face-to-face???   0612-13

No, this is not normal behavior.   This is beyond your sphere of responsibility to deal with and you need to inform the girl’s parents of the odd behavior.   It’s almost as if you are an imaginary friend for her.  You are fun to play with online but meeting face-to-face in reality is too much. It is time to tell her parents so they can address the issues.

{ 124 comments… add one }
  • akaCat June 18, 2013, 12:40 pm

    Honestly, I think the kid has a crush on the LW. Either in the usual sense, or in the sense that there’s some role-model worship going on.

    Regardless, she’s become a pest and you’ve told her plenty of times that you don’t have time to chat on Facebook. So hide her:
    1. Pull up Facebook in a browser.
    2. Click on Chat.
    3. Click on the settings icon (gear) at the upper right of the chat window.
    4. Click “Advanced Settings”.
    5. Type her name in the “Turn on chat for all friends except” space.
    6. Click Save.

    Now you’ll always appear to be offline to her.

    If she gets to be a pest in your News Feed, you can always set her to “Acquaintance” status so you’ll see less of her in your feed (so far in my experience, less == nothing.) You can even set her to “Restricted” status, and she’ll only see the things you’ve made public.

    None of this removes her from your Friend list, so she won’t know she’s been singled out.

  • Anonymous June 18, 2013, 12:41 pm

    This is a tough one. If you block Jackie on Facebook and Skype, you’ll still see her at church, and that’ll be awkward, whether or not she actually confronts you. All I can suggest is, if you do block her, would it be possible for you to also change churches, or at least switch to a different worship time? Some churches offer more than one service per week, either an earlier-morning and a later-morning time slot on Sunday, or services on different days of the week, or both. You’ve told Jackie how you felt, she’s ignored you, and nothing has improved. So, since Jackie isn’t going to change, I think the best thing to do is to just fade out of her life. If she asks why you don’t go to that church/service time anymore, you can always say that the new church/time “fits better with your schedule,” or something innocuous like that.

  • MollyMonster June 18, 2013, 12:51 pm

    It might also be time to stop being friends with any underage teens. It opens you up to all sorts of potential issues. While working at a geek summer camp, the first thing they said was that we were not allowed to “friend” any of the kids or give them our emails or anything like that just because of the possibilities for misunderstandings.

    She might also have some sort of social anxiety which creates difficulty in face-to-face interaction (or a type of autism/other illness that makes her oblivious to social cues), but the fact that (based on your story) she seems to be so focused on you, I would be worried. No 15 year old should be so hung up on another adult unless the relationship is much deeper than you described. Honestly, it sounds like she has a crush on you but doesn’t know how to deal with it and it might be against your/her religion for her to act on it which further confuses the issue. She is edging into stalker/obsessed territory, IMO and you should consider easing out of her life. Continue making yourself unavailable to talk, stop asking her out to lunch, and consider pruning your friends list of all of her peer group unless you are specifically providing career/religious guidance to them.

  • Debra June 18, 2013, 12:59 pm

    She might be very shy and have trouble talking to people in person. This does not excuse the behavior, just one possible reason. I still think you might want to talk to her parents. Not in any type of accusatory or complaining way but maybe brainstorm ideas with them on getting her more experience with face to face communication?

  • Snarkastic June 18, 2013, 1:10 pm

    This whole thing reeks of “Single White Female”, except she tries to take over your virtual life.

    I need clarification on a few things:

    1) Were you a youth group leader or youth Minister? Why are/were you in touch with so many teenagers?

    2) Have you ever spoken to this girl in person?! It sounds like the two of you have never had a face-to-face conversation, because Jennifer Jason Leigh keeps running passed you every Sunday.

    You seem to be very good about setting up boundaries and expressing yourself, which is why I’m surprised this girl is still chasing you around the Internet.

  • Sharon June 18, 2013, 1:16 pm

    I would definitely talk to the parents, but you must be very diplomatic and gentle. They may not realize how awkward she is in social situations. The fact that there is a rather large age gap here could also be an issue. Ease out of this as quickly as you can.

  • Kara June 18, 2013, 1:19 pm

    Yikes! This whole post really set off my Creepy Meter. Age/gender notwithstanding, Jackie is engaging in some serious cyber-stalking and harassing behavior.

    1 – The OP should absolutely de friend and block Jackie on Facebook and Skype a few days before yesterday.

    2 – Jackie’s parents should be told about her behavior. Jackie needs help, and her parents need to know so that they can provide that help. Also, if Jackie is acting like this with the OP, chances are probably good that she is (or will be in the future) acting like this with other people. Jackie needs help before she really gets in trouble or someone takes legal action against her because of her behavior.

    3 – The OP REALLY needs to work on maintaining her own boundaries. The OP’s actions in enabling Jackie’s stalking/harassment disturbed me as much as the stalking/harassment did!

  • Lisa June 18, 2013, 1:57 pm

    Wait… so Jackie told her mother several times in the car how excited she was to see you. And you clearly talked to the mother. So didn’t the mother notice that Jackie was then ignoring you?

    That seems very odd.

  • EchoGirl June 18, 2013, 2:05 pm

    @Princess Buttercup: I would like to just amend a little and say that some people have social anxiety regardless of technology, and that includes young people. The ability to text/email/facebook has been a blessing for me because I have an unexplainable phobia of talking on the telephone. (In person is okay, but that’s not always feasible.) It may create social anxiety but it can also help people who already have it.

  • Gee June 18, 2013, 2:18 pm

    I agree with what others have said: please tell this girl’s parents. They may have no idea that this has been going on, and it sounds like she needs help from a mental health professional. This is stalking behaviour and needs to be addressed.

  • Amber June 18, 2013, 2:38 pm

    This girl has a crush. In an earlier time, you’d be getting love notes from anonymous. You have the pleasure of having technology crank her crush to 11.

  • Shoebox June 18, 2013, 2:38 pm

    The crucial thing missing from your story, OP: how does Jackie interact with others, esp others her own age?

    If you’ve confident that she’s behaving normally in company generally, I’d agree that the most likely explanation is a teenage crush that’s gotten way out of hand.

    Either way, I’d take the excellent suggestions here for distancing yourself naturally, and if that doesn’t work (within, say, a month or so) then go to her parents quietly, with the details, and let them know that you’re cutting off social media contact altogether, and you might need their help to explain why. Then refuse to be swayed into any further online explanations, no matter how pathetic the demand.

    After which I’d make a resolution to limit my interactions with young teenagers generally. I can appreciate your motives, and you do seem like an exemplary young woman, but as many here have already mentioned, mentoring without a clear idea of the drama even the most sweet-seeming teenage girl can create is a minefield you really don’t want to step into.

  • Lisa too June 18, 2013, 2:40 pm

    She has a crush, and might accuse you of inapropriate behaviour if you don’t respond to het feelings. Proceed carefully, and keep your chats on file, so that you can prove you had no bad intentions towards her. Very tricky situation, I hope it works out well for you.

  • Dear! June 18, 2013, 3:02 pm

    This is very odd to say the least, and creepy.

    I am 26 years old, and working in PR, I get to work with a lot of different people. I work on a reality TV show annually, and it involves contestants under 18. (I also used to work as a tutor, as well) We get training on how to avoid situations similar to this one.

    From the moment she started complimenting your looks, you should have steered her away from contacting you privately. The young lady may very well have a crush, and your actions may have inadvertently encouraged her. I’ve learned that you have to keep a certain distance with kids that you work with and casually come in contact with. You may have viewed it as a mentor type relationship, but based on your communication with “Jackie” had she cried wolf and claimed that your innocent relationship/exchanges was something more or romantic in nature, you could find yourself in a lot of trouble that you could not easily defend yourself against.

    The poor girl sounds unstable and it may be best to either cut off ties. Telling her parents might be the best thing for her, but that could cause her to retaliate.

    I have my little cousins on facebook, as well as a few younger siblings of my same aged friends. No matter how close, I keep social media exchanges public and limit it to sharing wall posts or harmless comments.

  • Marozia June 18, 2013, 3:35 pm

    This social media has taken over everyone’s lives and turned some people into virtual stalkers while others into hermits.
    Admin is right. Gently address the issue with the parents to tone down the facebook/skype talk. Tell them you want to be her real friend instead of some ‘avatar’ that she can manipulate around.
    I’m surprised you haven’t thrown your computer out of the window with this nonsense going on!!!
    Whatever happened to face-to-face chatting?

  • EllenS June 18, 2013, 3:45 pm

    I disagree with some of the previous commenters about the severity of this issue – I don’t think it need be a “mental health” problem, but she does not demonstrate age-appropriate social skills, so I see it more as a maturity issue. I agree with Admin that it is high time you spoke to her parents.

    One possible way to approach the subject, so it does not come out sounding like “your kid is annoying,” is to focus on the disconnect between her online and her in-person behavior, and on the fact that if she is being intrusive with you online, she may be acting the same way with other people. Or the fact that she seems to spend a disproportionate amount of time online, rather than in face-to-face conversation. That way you are addressing concerns about her well-being, rather than complaining.

  • Eileen June 18, 2013, 3:47 pm

    The one thing I didn’t notice being said, is don’t invite her out to lunch or anything else again. If you are a young person group leader, and invite everyone out to lunch or a movie, etc. that is different, but don’t put yourself in a position where accusations can be made with a one-on-one get-together.
    I use the “don’t show me as online” all the time, in gmail and facebook, when I can’t take time to visit.

  • Ellie June 18, 2013, 3:55 pm

    I think you should consult with the minister or youth minister/youth director at your church.
    It sounds like you are very involved with your church, with the mission year and other activities that would put you in the path of the teens there, and it might be a benefit to both you and Jackie to have a church authority counsel you and know what is going on with Jackie in case some future intervention is needed. Perhaps you could make an appointment for a private meeting over coffee to discuss your experiences with Jackie and what steps you have taken and are planning to take in the future.

  • FerrisW June 18, 2013, 3:58 pm

    I think Mrs Lovett’s advice for what to say to the parents is spot on. Approach them with concern for their daughter. She should be connecting with people her own age, not almost twice it, and although you have tried to be nice and mean her no harm, it doesn’t mean the next person she switches her obsession to will be so nice, which could be very dangerous.

    Talk to the parents. If you have a laptop, bring it with you so that, if needed, you can show them the communication with their daughter so they can see that you have behaved appropriately. Do the same with your pastor- in other words, cover your back so that everyone knows that you have not behaved wrong in this situation.

    Explain to the parents that you are unable to maintain a friendship with their daughter, and that to curb the incessant messages you will be blocking her, so that they are prepared for any emotional fallout. Explain to the girl that you are not rejecting her, as a person- that it is your different positions and stages in life that prevent the friendship from continuing. Tell her how much you appreciated having friends your own age when you were a teen. In other words, let her down gently, both for her sake and your own.

    And then be hyper aware of friending teenagers in the future.

    At least, this is what I’d do in that situation. I have students who try to friend me on facebook, and it’s my blanket policy to politely decline simply because I am an adult and they’re not quite, yet, and I don’t want to open myself up for uncomfortable situations.

  • sv June 18, 2013, 4:11 pm

    Save some of the correspondence for evidence and tell the parents. Now.

  • SweetPea June 18, 2013, 4:21 pm

    I agree with what a few other’s have posted regarding a crush in some way or another on the OP – be it in regards to a relationship or as a role-model.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to defriend all younger people, as most aren’t going to stalk an adult, but in this case, the parents absolutely need to be told, and, if the girl has repeatedly not listened to you telling her about how this type of activity needs to end, I’m afraid it is time to unfriend her, harsh as it seems.

    If this is a case of the kid having a stalker-like obsession on the OP, the OP themselves is in danger of having a he-said, she-said battle with a teenager, where they may be accused of some very bad things. The girl is struggling, and people who are obsessed tend to react in as harmful a way as possible when they feel they aren’t getting what they should. Be careful!

  • schnickelfritz June 18, 2013, 5:08 pm

    “I had a LOT of people to see and things to get done during my week at home, but I cleared Tuesday afternoon, only to have her message me on Monday night saying her “allergies were superbad” and she couldn’t make it (She doesn’t have life-threatening allergies, just regular sneezing and blowing your nose- I have the same issues but I would never use it as an excuse not to see someone!) Well, glad I kept that time slot free for nothing. ”

    I lost a post – it must be in cyberspace. OP, get some friends your own age. Your story creeped me out. Something is very, very wrong with this “relationship” – and it is not the teenager’s fault. Why, oh why, would you spend so much time and angst, with a kid? This is the creepiest thing I have read on this site. I can’t believe the posters noting the girl had the problem; not picking up on the adult’s contribution to this.

  • Miss-E June 18, 2013, 5:14 pm

    I agree with akaCat. You could also block her, which would effectively erase you from facebook (as far as she sees at least). If she ever asks you about it you just say “oh I had to delete it because of work” or something and she’ll be none the wiser.

    I’d also recommend changing your Skype handle and not giving it to her.

    I know a lot of people recommend talking to her or her parents but, honestly, a teenage brain cannot take things in like an adult and I think any attempt to directly correct her behavior will go wildly awry.

  • cathy June 18, 2013, 6:10 pm

    My niece was involved in a situation like this. You need to talk to the parents in a matter-of-fact way and ease out of this “relationship”. Kids don’t always realize that adults don’t have endless free time for chatting and online hanging out. It also sounds like she has behavioral/social issues and could use some counseling. It may not end well, but that is not your problem. The girl needs a reality check on her behavior so she doesn’t do this again.

  • Jays June 18, 2013, 7:41 pm

    schnickelfritz — what on Earth? What has the OP done besides try to be considerate … too considerate … of a teenager’s feelings? Where do you see it that the OP has no friends of her own age?

    I think it’s as simple as the OP, used to mentor-type roles with teens at the church, gave one just a little too much access in an attempt to be helpful and it backfired badly. While I sympathize with trying to play a mentor role, it’s gotten out of hand and she needs to know she’s crossed the line. (I would also consider tactfully and gently talking to her parents.)

    But the OP’s only role in this is trying to be a little too accessible. How has she been creepy? It sounds like being a mentor for teens this age is something she’s used to, normally with no problems.

  • MichelleP June 18, 2013, 8:19 pm

    Jaw dropping at the posters blaming the OP. It’s a lot easier said than done when you’re not in the situation.

    @shnickelfritz, this is not the adult’s fault. She tried to be polite and protect a girl’s feelings. The story creeped me out too, but not what the OP did, which was nothing wrong. The OP is a missionary in her church for crying out loud, not a pervert befriending young girls.

    @anonymous, why should the OP find a different church? She shouldn’t have to rearrange her life to accomodate a stalker, which is exactly what that girl is. I hope you wouldn’t tell a woman who was being stalked by a man that she should change her life to accomodate his problem. Why should the OP?

  • appalled June 18, 2013, 9:40 pm

    I teach a misconduct prevention course at our church. This is where we teach adults who have contact with minors what is and is not allowed.

    It is up to the grown-up to establish boundaries. This young lady has gone WAY past decent boundaries and it is up to the OP to put on her big girl panties and start establishing those boundaries.

    Boundary: You do not incessantly send chat requests or Skype requests. Consequence: the girl is blocked from your FB and Skype.

    Boundary: You do not, ever, not ever, put yourself in a position where you are alone with this girl. Not even in public. Do not meet her for coffee. Do not take her to lunch. Any time you are alone with the girl, even if you are in a Starbucks, she has the power to accuse you of inappropriate behavior. Once she has that power, then you are at her mercy. Block her from FB? “No, I’ll tell my parents you tried to molest me.”

    At our church we have a “Two Grown-Up Rule”. Within church-related activities, there are always at least two grown-ups in the presence of kids or even just one kid. We make it clear in our misconduct prevention classes that there is no reason for a grown-up to be alone with a kid. If the kid needs one-on-one counseling, that counseling takes place in the church courtyard, in full view of everyone else, but out of earshot. We have a library with a huge picture window looking out on the courtyard. Anyone can see in that window any time, and can see anything happening in the library. (It’s a small room.) If the weather is inclement, then the counseling can take place in the library, with the window shade wide open.

    As things are now, the young lady is calling the shots. She messages and Skypes when she pleases. Time for the grown-up to take charge.

    Block her from FB, block her from Skype and have a talk with her parents letting them know that for your own protection and your own reputation, you will not communicate with her until she’s 18.

  • Marguette June 18, 2013, 9:44 pm

    Some of the advice is forgetting that the OP is now studying in another state, so it wouldn’t be easy for her to have personal meetings with Jackie’s parents or the church leadership.

  • SJ June 18, 2013, 11:29 pm

    I am turning 27 later this year, and I am also very active in my church.

    I also teach at the local college.

    However, I never socialize with minors or my college students via Facebook or online unless I am related to them (ie, my brother-in-law is 17). If they initiate social contact, I ignore it.

    I do, however, use Facebook to communicate work and school-related things with my students.

    This girl is obsessed with you. It’s actually kind of frightening. You had red flags early on, and the responses, explanations, and invitations for coffee and lunch were not the wisest choices.

  • Ange June 19, 2013, 12:10 am

    I like the way Mrs Lovett phrased her talk with the parents, I think it’s very respectful yet skirts perhaps the bigger issue that is for the girl and the family to work out. I would very much hazard a guess that this girl is struggling with her identity and her nervousness in person is a reflection of that. Hopefully her church and family are understanding of such issues if that’s indeed what it is. If not it doubly explains why she is having so much trouble interacting with the OP face to face as she is struggling with her feelings in an environment where they might not be fostered positively.

  • Kirsten June 19, 2013, 3:19 am

    What you need to remember is that Jackie is a child. She’s a child, she’s clearly confused, and you’re the adult. I’m afraid your kindness has gone into naivety, at best, and foolishness at worst.

    You need to tell her parents *immediately* and then you need to get ready to answer the following:

    Why are you chatting online to children you admit you hardly know, and responding to them at all hours?

    Why are you sending Jackie mixed messages (‘tone it down/let’s go for lunch’)? Why aren’t you asking her mother’s permission BEFORE you ask her?

    Why have you never tried to get her the help she so obviously needs, nor directed her elsewhere?

    Why, in over a year, have you not once told her parents? Did you honestly not think they had a right to know about this?

    If I were Jackie’s mother and found out that my child was cyberstalking an adult for over a year, I’d be horrified. If I then found out that the adult thought it was fine to keep this from me *and was still responding to her*, I’d be furious.

    And if I found out the adult thought the best way of handling this, after all this mess, was to block my clearly confused daughter rather than make any effort to get her help, I’d be really upset. You know her through church. Where is your compassion for a child in emotional turmoil?

    You may be lucky and this might be brushed off, but you have made several huge mistakes. I’ll say it again: she is a CHILD. If you were a teacher, you’d be in serious trouble for this. I teach, and I would never, ever Skype with a child I wasn’t related to unless their parents were there every time, 15 or not.

  • Kirsten June 19, 2013, 3:36 am

    It’s pretty shocking to me that you would consider blocking her before you would consider telling her parents, and getting this very confused CHILD the help she needs. People seem to be forgetting that here. Jackie may be a stalker, but before anything else, she is a child. You are the adult and you have made some big mistakes. Tell her parents immediately and prepare yourself to answer the following:

    Why are you chatting online to children you admit you barely know?

    Why are you responding to them at weird hours when they very likely don’t have their parents’ permission?

    Why are you sending Jackie mixed messages (‘tone it down/let’s go for lunch’)? Why aren’t you checking with her mother if it’s ok FIRST?

    Why have you made no attempt to tell her parents? Did you honestly not think they had a right to know?

    And finally…why have you, as an adult, let a child behave like this for over a year behind her parents’ back?

    If I were Jackie’s mother, I would be horrified that my child had been stalking an adult, but I would be furious with that adult for not telling me, for still inviting her to lunch, and for behaving the way you have. And if I then found out that your first reaction after all this would be ‘should I just block her on Facebook’ rather than tell me or get her any help at all, I would be really upset. Really upset. Particularly from someone who knows her through the church, where I might expect a bit more compassion.

    I know you meant to be kind, but seriously, you need to put in boundaries when dealing with children. If you were a teacher and all this came out, you’d have a LOT of explaining to do and you would have failed Jackie terribly.

  • Anonymous June 19, 2013, 6:33 am

    >>@anonymous, why should the OP find a different church? She shouldn’t have to rearrange her life to accomodate a stalker, which is exactly what that girl is. I hope you wouldn’t tell a woman who was being stalked by a man that she should change her life to accomodate his problem. Why should the OP?<<

    Yeah, good point. I guess I wasn't thinking yesterday, and I missed the part about the OP being in a designated mentor role to the teenage members of the church. In that case, I think just quietly blocking Jackie from further online contact would be the best way to go, because she's unlikely to confront the OP in person.

  • Justin June 19, 2013, 7:02 am

    As others have said it is very obvious that there is a mismatch in the expectations for this relationship.

    As a man of similar age to the OP I want to share a view from the male perspective. This is a very dangerous situation, personally I avoid friending and non public online interaction with minors not related to me. Even though nothing inappropriate is going on there will be many people who will view the relationship as unacceptable. In this case if the OP breaks things off they are at risk because ‘Jackie’ can present her side how she wants and it could be in a way that causes serious trouble for the OP. There would also be a huge stigma if the OP was male as people would question his motives.

    I admire the desire to mentor young people, but it is best to do so through official organizations like your church or Boys and Girls clubs that have policies and procedures in place to help protect both the mentor and mentee.

  • --Lia June 19, 2013, 7:27 am

    76-Michelle P–

    “The OP is a missionary for her church for crying out loud, not a pervert befriending young girls.”

    You make it sound like the 2 are mutually exclusive, that because one is a missionary, one cannot be a pervert. Alas, if you read the news, you know there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. I agree that the OP does not sound like she’s purposely encouraging the girl’s behavior, but that doesn’t mean that no missionary could possibly do something seriously wrong.

  • AMC June 19, 2013, 8:41 am

    I agree with other commentors: It’s time to tell the girl’s parents. You don’t have to tell them that she annoys you, just that you’re concerned about her behavior which seems unhealthy and not like typical teen behavior. It seems like she’s reaching out to OP to fulfill some need or validation that she may not be getting at home. My biggest concern here is that if the girl is being so aggressive in her online communications with OP, who else is she talking to online? There may be other adults communicating with her, and they not all be as upstanding as OP or have this young girl’s best interests at heart.

  • Whoa there! June 19, 2013, 9:49 am

    Wow, Kirsten, you need to tone it down! Let’s go out to lunch.
    No seriously though, the OP is reaching out for advice and you are harshly interrogating her and putting her down. Your tone is anything but compassionate. Please calm down, the OP does not need such a berating. Sheesh!

  • EJK June 19, 2013, 10:15 am

    @Woah there (87)
    I don’t think the intention of Kirsten’s post was to attack the OP. She says specifically that OP should ” prepare yourself to answer the following.” She isn’t doing the interrogation, but letting OP get ready for some potential uncomfortable questions. The surrounding introduction/ending might have been phrased with more compassion, but her list is a gift.

  • XH June 19, 2013, 11:00 am

    I agree with schnickelfritz and Kirsten. There were some serious mistakes OP made early in this relationship. The first of which was friending an unrelated minor on a social media platform. That almost always spells trouble, and just shouldn’t be a thing adults do. It’s far too easy for that to look like creepy behavior for it to even cross the mind as acceptable.

  • NostalgicGal June 19, 2013, 11:38 am

    Just came into this and didn’t read all the postings.

    This girl is stalking.

    I’d contact her mother immediately and SHOW her the proof. If mother doesn’t want to do something, then go to the authorities.

    The girl has other issues considering how she bolts when in physical range of her target… she needs help, now.

  • Kirsten June 19, 2013, 12:18 pm

    Whoa there!, you’re mistaken. I’m not interrogating the OP.

    But these are all questions Jackie’s mother is very likely to ask her if and when this comes out. She needs to be prepared and she needs to protect herself.

    If Jackie takes this badly, the OP could find herself in a very bad situation. It happens all the time. If she’s accused of misconduct by a child, how will she explain this? How will she answer those questions?

    If you were Jackie’s mother, wouldn’t you want to know why the OP never told you, but was responding to your child at all hours?

  • Allie June 19, 2013, 3:56 pm

    I’d caution the OP to be really careful.

    Look, I know you meant well, but chatting for a year with this girl can be misconstrued. You should preempt it by talking to her parents and shut it down. In the future be more cautious around kids like this.

  • Allie June 19, 2013, 4:03 pm

    Sorry, after reading some more comments I want to address the whole “Did the OP do anything wrong?” debate.

    I certainly don’t think the OP had bad motivations BUT when you’re working with kids like the OP is, you definitely need to learn boundaries that the OP doesn’t have here. The problem is some innocent behaviors can be used against you and there is a power differential in the relationship. While the teenager was the one acting strangely, the adult here should have been in a position to recognize and try to avoid this situation in the first place.

    If your youth ministry sponsor or similar doesn’t do this kind of training, they really really need to be. It protects both the kids and the sponsors.

  • acr June 19, 2013, 4:10 pm

    I think the OP is sooooo lucky that both she and her stalker are female. I think if the OP were a young man, the posters would be a LOT harsher.

    OP, I don’t think you had bad intentions, but I think you have not behaved appropriately. If I were your supervisor in the church, I would probably remove you from mentorship duties. You do not appear to have a grasp of appropriate boundaries. When I was a 17 year old camp counsellor, I had a better understanding of boundaries when dealing with the children in my care than you do as a 27 year old.

    I think the posters who are suggesting you contact Jackie’s parents are incorrect. Frankly, unless they already have a strong idea that Jackie has issues, their reaction will be very angry and hostile towards the poster. Possibly you could contact the person who supervises your church mentoring program and show them the correspondence, and that person could act as a mediator with Jackie’s parents. Even with a mediator, be prepared for this to be extremely unpleasant.

  • MichelleP June 19, 2013, 6:51 pm

    @Lia, I did not state that missionaries could not be perverts. I stated that the OP was most likely not one, citing the fact that she was a church missionary as an example of her good behavior. I probably should have brought up other points in my defense of her, however.

    I stand by my opinion that the worst the OP has done is let a bad situation get worse. She is not the bad guy in this scenario.

    • admin June 19, 2013, 11:22 pm

      WHere is this line of thinking equating missionaries with perverts coming from? It’s sick. And I’ve been declining to approve a considerable number of comments that imply or even state that the teenager is a closet lesbian because that is incredibly presumptuous.

  • Angela June 19, 2013, 7:04 pm

    As the parent of a 15-year-old girl, I say you need to tell her parents because they are her parents and they have a right to know what’s going on. They may react with hostility, or they may appreciate being clued in…but their reaction is not a reason to avoid telling them. You could frame it as “Jackie is putting herself at risk by sounding so needy and that’s what molesters hone in on. “

  • schnickelfritz June 19, 2013, 7:11 pm

    The girl knew it was inappropriate; i.e., that is why she “ran past you” at church, and canceled the lunch. The first communication, she told the OP she was GORGEOUS! The OP replied “so are you!”
    Her crush was too intense, for her to stop the internet communication, but she did have the good sense not to go to lunch – The OP was upset “her excuse was allergies!”

    I have read this story over five times – and I cannot believe it went on as long as it did. The posters above are so correct, the OP is going to have a hard time, explaining this to the church staff, and the parents. She is very fortunate, she is leaving town soon anyway.

  • Lauren June 19, 2013, 7:45 pm

    I’m going to cut straight to the chase here. The OP clearly understands that what’s going on is wrong, if not for her career then for the sake of the girl. In order to restrict her access to the OP, there’s a few things that can be done.

    1. Turning off Chat on Facebook

    Pull up the Chat sidebar and click on her name. On the little blue bar you will see a icon that looks like a gear. Click on that an select ” turn of chat for ______” Now she won’t be able to tell if you’re offline. You can turn it back on again (if you ever want to) in the same way. I’d reccomend only being online for 5 to 10 minutes at a time when she’s online to wean her off you and make it seem like you havent blocked her, as at this stage it’ll likely make her mad.

    2. Turning off chat for Skype

    This is a bit trickier, as Skype doesn’t have the option to appear offline to just one person. You can go into Settings an arrange for your computer to not automatically accept video calls, go to Blocked People and add her name, or tell her your account is being weird and just delete her. Again, I’d recommend blocking her, but unblocking periodically to wean her off you. Keep messages short and non-personal.

    Once she moves on, you can delete and block her completely.

  • Molly June 19, 2013, 8:02 pm

    I don’t really think the OP did anything wrong. It does sound like this girl has some mental issue going on – shyness, social anxiety, – which makes it easy for her to communicate in cyberspace but not face to face. But her behavior has crossed way out of the realm of normal and reasonable, and if she’s not listening to reason, I would cut her off. Forget it being awkward. Just don’t engage with her online. if she thinks you “hate” her, well, so be it.

  • Toni June 19, 2013, 9:17 pm

    OP: You are the adult, she is the child…whatever her mental state. You needed to set the boundaries early on. I suggest you partner with someone at the church to help you address this issue. ASAP.

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