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Is it ever safe to meet an online crush IRL?

I’m 13 and have been sort of going with this guy for about three weeks. I met him online. My mom doesn’t know we are together, and I’m scared to tell her. My friends aren’t pleased, but I really like him. He might come to my hometown soon, and I want my friends to give him a chance. Help me!

Dear Scared,

Sometimes, fear is your friend. Even if you were twice your age, I’d have misgivings. It’s too easy to project your wishes and needs onto a mystery online guy. What makes you sure he’s even a teen? You could be e-mailing someone who’s a potential danger. Maybe you don’t want to confide in your mom because you know what she’ll say—and that she’d be right. If you’ve given this “boy” your address, tell an adult right away. Be glad you have sensible friends, and stop the e-mails. Many girls have flirted online with someone who turned out to be a creep—or a criminal.

BY CAROL WESTON ON 9/19/2012 12:00:00 AM

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