I have a new volunteer (one of many, in actual fact - I don't know where they've all suddenly appeared from!?) named Jenny - she's 16 and just leaving school. Alas, she ain't the brightest button in the box, but she is very sweet and (more importantly) very enthusiastic. At first she was quite shy, but as the weeks have gone on it's becoming difficult to get her to shut up! Not that I mind, not being a great talker myself.
What Jenny often talks about is 'boyfriends' that she has had - 12, apparently! More than me... Not so worrying in itself, but it appears that these boyfriends are/were on the internet - I'm not sure if she's even met any of them. The second time she came in she told us that she'd had to break up with her boyfriend (this one she hadn't met for sure) because her mum didn't like it. Now I am a great advocate of internet dating, and at her age had met (in person) more than one person via the internet. I've always thought people worried overly about the dangers of such things, but in this particular situation I can see that danger quite clearly. Jenny is extremely naive, not especially sharp and doesn't seem to have had a lot of encouragement from parents/teachers as a result. It seems like she would be pretty susceptible to unscrupulous parties - whether online or not, actually - and I'm not sure if I ought to talk to her about it. I'm not suggesting that she'll end up being stalked and/or ravaged by crazed, knife-wielding paedophiles, but there's definitely a risk that someone less innocent than her, even of her own age, would be willing to take advantage in one way or another. Her welfare outside of the shop isn't really any of my business and I don't know her especially well yet, but if she ended up in a sticky situation that I might have been able to help her avoid, I would feel awful for not having done anything!
I think a little more detective work is on the agenda first.