This week actress Thandie Newton bravely revealed to InStyle magazine that she was involved in a six-year affair with a director that began when she was just 16 years old. At the time, the director was 20 years Thandie’s senior, and she admitted she felt had taken advantage of her at her most vulnerable state.

I commend Thandie for coming out with her story after all this time. She did so to empower young girls, and I think it’s right on time. Many young actresses and wanna-be celebrities fall prey to manipulative men within the industry who know they’ll do almost anything to get a chance to shine. But, sadly, the abuse of power doesn’t end there. It happens closer to home too.

As young women today continue to desire to grow up too fast, and wear heavy makeup and tight clothes way ahead of schedule, more and more older men are coming after them – and by older I mean old enough to damn well know better.

Once upon a time my girlfriends and I were just 16 years old too, and I recall an afternoon once when we were all so excited for the school day to end. You see, one of the girls in our circle had talked her “boyfriend” into picking us all up after school and giving us rides home.  He was 29 year-old at the time. That afternoon we happily rode along in the backseat while our friends made out with this guy at every stoplight.

At the time we thought it was the coolest moment ever, but looking back now we feel nothing but disgust at what was really going down. There we were too young and dumb to know better, but these grown men were hitting on and picking up little girls. My friend wasn’t dating a “great guy” she was being pursued by a sick man who wanted to take advantage of a naïve child who wanted to feel special.

I wish I could say this didn’t happen like this anymore, but we all know that it still does, and far too often. So many young girls out there today think they want the extra attention from older more established me, but never stop to imagine what the potential consequences might be.

We must educate young women about the dangers that lurk in the shadows of the party or the club. It’s there that older men who don’t fit into the adult worlds come into their own and try to take advantage. He doesn’t want to make them feel special, he wants them to be his personal conquest.

A young woman must be taught early on in life that there is nothing a man can do for her that she cannot do for herself. She’s got to rely on her own skills and achievements to get her ahead, not the gifts and guidance provided by an ill-intentioned man.  Ladies, let’s look out for our little sisters. Have her back, so she won’t desire a man to do it.