New research from the University of Georgia (UGA) reports that kids who start dating as early as middle school are “four times more likely to drop out of school, twice as likely to drink and smoke marijuana, and tend to have worse teacher-reported study habits.”
I’m not sure what “dating” entails in sixth and seventh grade, and maybe times have changed since my days as a tween, because this doesn’t sound good. Pamela Orpinas, lead study author and head of the Department of Health Promotion and Behavior at UGA, had this to say: “A likely explanation for the worse educational performance of early daters is that these adolescents start dating early as part of an overall pattern of high-risk behaviors.”
Teenage emotions combined with other difficulties of middle school — depression, bullying, anxiety, and stress — can make relationships difficult and easy stress relievers more tempting. But who are we kidding? Relationships are always difficult on some level. My solution? Single-sex schools and arranged marriages. My parents have threatened the latter off and on for years, and father knows best, right?