When you are young, you view the world as being full of possibilities. Anything can happen if you try. A storybook romance can bloom magically in an instant. How young is too young for dating though? New research from the University of Georgia shows that middle school is too young.
The study showed that middle school kids who date are four times more likely to drop out of school and twice as likely to start doing drugs or using alcohol. They also have shown that they have worse study habits according to their teachers. The lead study author, Pamela Orpinas, says that dating when they are this young age will not yield anything good.
The study, lead by Orpinas, followed 624 students as they went from sixth grade to twelfth grade in six different school districts in Georgia. Every year the students would take a survey that asked them to give information about their personal lives at the time. Then Orpinas would compare it to their academic performance of the past year.
Thirty-eight percent of the students reported that they were dating someone at all times all the way straight through to senior year. Twenty-two percent of those in the study started dating in the sixth grade. The teachers reported that those who did date consistently did not have study habits or grades that were as good as their single counterparts.
Orpinas believes that the reason that kids who start dating early are so much more likely to start drugs or drop out is because it is the beginning of a high-risk behavior pattern. They think they know what is best for them so they do what they want. Putting this behavior together with hormones from puberty and emotional issues that teens deal with today and you have a recipe for disaster.
Parents should talk to their children about dating and should encourage them not to date young, but to focus on their studies and cultivate platonic relationships. A parent is a child’s role model, especially when it comes to relationships.