Dating at an early age

Even at this early age, more than half say a friend has experienced some type of dating abuse and the rates are even higher (70 percent) among those who have sex before age 14.

As victims of teen dating violence grow into young adults, they are more vulnerable to additional trauma, depression, suicidal thoughts, binge drinking and drug use. Young people stay in contact via social networking sites and cell phones, sometimes using these venues for harassment and abuse.

The more time teens spend with a love interest, the more likely they are to use drugs.

Those most at risk for substance abuse are girls who date boys two or more years older than them.

But having a steady boyfriend or girlfriend at a young age increases the risk of early sex, as does having friends in higher grades, frequenting social networking sites and spending less time with platonic friends.

There is also a practical element: If the romantic interest – or, interestingly enough, their friends – drink or use drugs, your child will likely follow suit to demonstrate their ability to fit into the partner’s life.

#3 Early Sex – An obvious question on most parents’ minds when their children start dating is: Does this mean they’re having sex?

On average, teens hold off on sex until around age 17.

For older teens, it can help them develop a healthy sense of self and master critical social and interpersonal skills that will serve them well in more serious relationships down the road.

It’s the age at which dating starts that’s a concern.

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By the time most children enter middle school their parents are starting to realize they’re not little kids anymore. Regardless, many are playing the part, wearing makeup, spending hours on Facebook and, much to their parents’ dismay, asking to go on dates.

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