New study suggests dating in middle school leads to bad behavior - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

New study suggests dating in middle school leads to bad behavior

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -

When it comes to dating, how old should your son or daughter be before starting a romantic relationship?

A new study suggests it's best to wait.

New research from the University of Georgia paints a not-so-pretty picture of middle school daters.

The study suggests students who date in middle school have significantly worse study skills, are four times more likely to drop out of school and report twice as much alcohol, tobacco and marijuana use than their single classmates.

The study looked at 624 students from sixth grade to 12th grade.

Every year, the students answered questions about their personal lives while their teachers evaluated their academic performance.

Bob Dale, a family therapist, said kids this young are already pushing boundaries; and suggests parents need to monitor them before any relationship gets out of hand.

"Take the time to see what your child is up to and confront the child if there is behavior going on that doesn't work. If the parent thinks it is inappropriate then they need to confront the child about it and stop it,” said Dale.

The researcher points out students who didn't date had better overall academic performance.

"I don't think they are mature enough to handle those types of situations at that early age,” said William Little.

Little said he won't let his 12-year-old date until she is at least 16.

Other parents say there is no harm in it.

"I think that is pushing it. I also think that maybe it does set them up to be more open with the other sex,” said Lesley Dormeyer.

Dale suggests teaching your child how to deal with stress and talk to them about dating as early as six years old.

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