DEAR ABBY: I'm 13, and my classmates are just beginning to "date." Sometimes what this means is, "Hey, do you want to go to my house, get drunk and have sex?" There's already a pregnant girl in our school. She's 12.
I'm trying not to get involved in any of this, but I'm constantly being teased for not holding a guy's hand, let alone not having had my first kiss. I have learned to deal with it, but my problem is there's this one guy who has been flirting with me.
"Jon" is sweet and nice, but he's part of the popular crowd. I'm afraid if he asks me out, he'll end up trying to get me drunk. He's different from the people he hangs out with, but I still don't know if I can trust him.
I want to stay a virgin until I get married. I won't drink until I'm 21, and I never intend to use drugs. But how do I say no if Jon asks me out and tries to have sex with me or gets me buzzed? I can't hide my entire junior high-to-high school life and not accept a date. Can you help? -- TOO YOUNG FOR TROUBLE, COLUMBIA, MO.
DEAR TOO YOUNG: There's an old saying, "Birds of a feather flock together," and it's usually true. If the price of being popular at your school is being pregnant at 12, then accept that you are better off not running with the popular crowd, even if Jon is "nice."
Not all the students in your class are into sex and drinking. It's up to you to avoid the ones who are and socialize with the ones whose values are like yours. If you do, you will never have to worry about someone getting you "buzzed" and taking advantage of you.
Before you go anywhere with anyone, your parents should have met the person. There should be a clear understanding about where you'll be, what time you'll be home and which adult will be supervising.
Equally important: If you ever find yourself in a situation in which you are not comfortable, call your parents immediately so they can pick you up. Got it? You don't have to be a prude, but you do have to set boundaries, and your parents can and should help you to do that.
DEAR ABBY: I'm in an awkward position. I started working for my uncle's plumbing business four months ago. I'm a laborer, not an apprentice or mechanic, so I don't know a lot about the trade. I'm not qualified to do a lot of the basic tasks like welding or pipe fitting, but I work hard. I come in early and stay late. I'm respectful and try to have a positive attitude.
The problem is most of the guys here regard me as the arrogant, spoiled nephew (which I'm not). They think I'm incapable and only got the job through my family ties.
How do I prove myself to them? I want to earn their respect. If I ask my uncle to talk to them, they won't trust me and it will make me look bad. Help me, please. -- UNDERESTIMATED IN VIRGINIA
DEAR UNDERESTIMATED: I know it's difficult, but if you want to earn their respect, keep doing exactly what you are doing. Come in early, stay late and learn all you can about the business. In time, your efforts will be recognized. What you are experiencing is something that happens to anyone who enters a family business.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
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- DEAR ABBY