Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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A ten year old girl in my Sunday school class is dating a boy. People have tried to talk to her about it, but to no avail. She does not want the priest to know; because she doesn’t think Abouna has anything to do with her private life. Besides,she does not think wrong of what she is doing. Should I tell Abouna? But then she may feel that I have broken her trust. This is the second boyfriend she has had. I am worried about  her innocence and her purity. What can I do?

I am very startled at this situation. What is the definition of dating? Does she go out with the boy? How old is he? She is too young to go out by herself. Who takes her to these dates? Does he pick her up from home? Where are her parents? What is her relationship with her parents? Do they know about this?

The first thing you should do is to gain her complete trust and not make her feel you are against her personally. Ask her about her previous experience with the first boyfriend and why it did not work out. Then emphasize to her how at that age it is easy to have feelings for someone but those feelings are always temporary and do not last. Talk to her about the life of purity. Two books are very helpful "Purity" By Fr. Tadros Malaty published by Coptic Orthodox Church, Melbourne Australia and "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" By Joshua Harris, published by Multnomah Press.

You should make Abouna aware of the situation, I am sure he can find an opportunity during confession to guide this child in general conversation without specifics. Probably the reason she is not close to her confessor is the fact that she does not like his advice and do not want to abide by the Holy Bible teaching, for as you have mentioned, she does not see any thing wrong in what she does.

Since she is officially in your class and you are her servant, you can ask for a meeting with her parents and talk to them in general about their daughter and try to know if they have any idea of what is going on in their daughter's life. If they seem clueless, approach the subject in a general way without pointing fingers, so they would not take a defense position. Try to have mutual trust and work together to solve the problem.
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