Determine the difference in age between your child and the adult.
Determine the difference in age, in months, between your child and the older individual or adult. If the contact is sexual and the age spread is sufficient under the law, your child’s circumstance may be proper for law enforcement investigation and prosecution. For example, in Washington if your child is between the age of 14 and 16 and the older person is at least 48 months older, this is a sufficient age spread to support a charge of child molestation if sexual contact between the two has occurred and can be proven. If the contact has been criminal in nature, this will support a petition for an anti-harassment order (i.e., restraining order).
Identify the type of contact your child and the adult are having.
Even if there is not clear criminal activity, determine what the nature of the contact between your child and the adult actually is (this might not be easy). Do they meet, talk on the phone, email or all of the above? And what do they talk about and do? Is there drinking involved or are they associating at unsafe hours in unsafe places with unsafe people?
Document how the contact with the adult is negatively affecting your child.
Has your child had a change in behavior or performance? Has your child begun skipping school, have your child’s grades been affected, has he or she been drinking or using drugs, or engaging in other risky or dangerous behavior? Has your child been harmed? Document what those changes are.
Petition for an Anti-Harassment Order Against the Adult
An anti-harassment order restrains an individual from contacting a protected person. In Washington, a parent may seek an antiharassment order to protect their minor child from a person over the age of 18 if it can be shown to the satisfaction of the court that contact between the minor child and the adult is detrimental to the welfare of the child and that the adult’s course of conduct would cause a reasonable parent to fear for the wellbeing of their child.
Be Prepared for a Fight
Be prepared for the adult to fight the issuance of the order and, if an order issues, for your child to potentially disregard or undermine the order. In other words, the anti-harassment order may not be the end of the contact and you will have to have a plan for how you will deal with violations and how to manage your child's reactions and actions.