Local News

Playing it Safe When out on a Date

Posted November 19, 1998 6:00 a.m. EST

— That first date is a time to remember. But experts say it is a time to play it safe. There are ways to ensure a safe dating experience for teens, and many teens already know them.

"Usually, if I do go out on a date, it's with guys I know, and if I don't know him that well, I'll bring a group of my friends with me," said Naomi Lamunion.

Those are two excellent ideas. First, know the person you're dating.

"Ask people, if they have ever heard anything about 'so and so.' People will know if somebody has a reputation," said health educator Stephanie Geiger.

Second, go out with a group of friends.

"There's always safety in numbers. I think I learned that when I was a Girl Scout. Don't go anywhere by yourself," said Geiger.

Just as important as who they go out with is where they go. Experts say public places like shopping malls and restaurants are a great spot for a first date.

Other safe ideas include organized activities like faith-based youth groups.

"What we try to do in our programs is to help kids feel confident about themselves and to have good self-esteem and respect for themselves as well as others," said St. Mary's Catholic Church youth minister Ruby Harris.

Harris also says organized, supervised activities are a great way for teens to learn social skills. She says it is also important for parents to be involved.

"You need to be aware of who they're with. Be there when that person picks up your daughter. Be awake when your child comes home. Set some limits. Give them a time," explained Harris.

Teens should also be setting limits themselves. Experts say before they date, teens should talk to each other about their desires and expectations so they can avoid an uncomfortable situation before it happens.

Experts say the best rule of thumb is to trust your instinct. If you think you are putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation, you probably are. And that goes for everyone, not just teens.