Health + Safety

Study: Kids Who Date Early More Apt to Risky Behaviors

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tween dating

Ah, young love. Tweens are practically bursting with feelings of possibility and new-found joy when they discover that “special someone.” Then again, when you’re fresh out of puberty, love is awkward and can be heartbreaking.

New research from the University of Georgia (UGA) paints a grim picture of middle school daters—they are four times more likely to drop out of school, twice as likely to drink and smoke marijuana, and tend have worse teacher-reported study habits.

After all, Juliet was only 13 when she started dating Romeo, and we all know how that turned out.

Studying the Habits of Middle School Daters

Pamela Orpinas, lead study author and head of the Department of Health Promotion and Behavior at UGA, says that while romantic relationships may seem like the hallmark of adolescence, they don’t always yield the best results.

Orpinas monitored 624 students as they moved from sixth grade to twelfth grade in six different school districts across Georgia. Every year, the students completed a questionnaire about their personal lives while their teachers evaluated each student’s academic performance.

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