Does Dating Make Good Kids Turn Bad?

Remember back in your freshest youth when who's holding who's hand at the dance seemed like the most important thing in the world? Well, your overly dramatic emotions may have been on to something.
Because there is a study for everything these days, the University of Georgia looked into the correlation between the frequency of dating among middle schoolers and their later habits regarding drug use, study skills, and drop-out rates. Over 600 students were followed for seven years, through the end of high school, and found "distinct trajectories." The study's author explained that "some students never or hardly ever reported dating from middle to high school, and these students had consistently the best study skills according to their teachers. Other students dated infrequently in middle school but increased the frequency of dating in high school. We also saw a large number of students who reported dating since sixth grade."
Of course, correlation doesn't equal causation, and we'd be interested to know more about what exactly is meant by "dating," here. We can imagine that students whose parents allow them a completely free romantic reign might have other family issues leading to further destructive behaviors. On the other hand, those with a less vibrant social life in this particularly different period of adolescence might be more inclined to throw themselves into their studies. And while we don't doubt the methods of this study, nor the fact that too many kids rush out of childhood and into romance these days, it does worry us a bit, because people love to twist the results of unbiased scientific studies for a biased cause — and we'd hate for this to be used as backup for slut-shaming.
What do you think? Is this a connection you've noticed in your own life? And for the parents out there — will you use this information to navigate the tough times with your in-house serial dater? (Science Daily)
Photo: Courtesy of Fox Searchlight.

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