Early adolescence and dating

Despite the old adage that "love is ageless," new Canadian research suggests that boys and girls who start dating at a young age may disrupt the typical pattern of romantic development and increase their risk of school and behavioral problems, the , the latest study on young romance looked at groups of children who started dating early, or at the average age of 11.6 years, as compared to 12.9 for "on-time teens" and an average age of 14.9 for the so-called "late bloomers." Twenty percent of the participants had started dating as young as ages 10 to 12, while 25 percent began in their late teens.

Researchers from York University in Toronto collected questionnaires yearly from their participants from 1996 to 2003.

By ages 15-16, 34% had had sexual intercourse; the proportion was significantly higher among blacks (45%) than among others (31%).

Most adolescents reported neither frequent dating nor a steady partner by ages 15-16, although the prevaleance of such reports was related to friendship patterns in late childhood.

In addition to measures of pubertal maturation and parental monitoring, adolescents and their peer group members completed indices of dating and delinquency.

Average dating and delinquency scores for each participant’s peer group network were computed.

Logistic regression analyses examine whether these patterns predict early sexual initiation, and whether there are differences associated with gender and race.

” Here are a few thoughts about safe dating for adolescent and parental consideration.

Results indicated that it was the combination of pubertal maturation, peer delinquency, and peer dating that explained increases in early dating.

For boys only, parental monitoring was a significant predictor.

CONTEXT: Preadolescent friendships and early teenage dating relationships have implications for adolescent sexual initiation that may differ by race and gender.

METHODS: Data on participants in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and their children are used to profile friendship and dating patterns among a sample of youth born to relatively young mothers.

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