Who are your kids spending time with?

Middle school Principal Missy Stubenhofer told the school board of a new phenomenon she has fought against: 19- and 20-year-old males going to middle school lunch to hit on seventh-grade girls. These visitors come under the guise of having lunch with a relative but end up be halfway across the lunchroom, chatting up 12- and 13-year-old girls.

At the board meeting, she asked what a 19- or 20-year-old sees in a seventh-grade girl. It was a rhetorical question. They see easy pickings.

An adult interested in seventh graders is not a mature adult. As Stubenhofer put it, these aren’t the kind of people she would want dating a 19-year-old daughter, let alone a 12-year-old daughter. The word “creepy” was used. It’s accurate but not strong enough.

Particularly disturbing is that parents don’t know or don’t care what is happening in their children’s lives. Who children are spending time with ranks among the top things parents should know.

If a middle schooler is spending time with an older friend who acts as a mentor, especially in a program like Big Brothers Big Sisters, that’s a good thing. The more positive role models an adolescent has, the better. But an adult who is flirting with middle schoolers is bad news.

With school out for the summer, Stubenhofer can’t keep an eye as easily on her students, but their parents can and should.

— ADAM STEWART

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