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Catholic Culture Liturgical Living
Catholic Culture Liturgical Living

Early Teen Dating? Not a Good Idea.

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Oct 01, 2013

A study by researchers at York University in Toronto suggests that delaying teen dating is beneficial. Early-daters (starting one-to-one dating between 10 and 12) reported significantly higher incidences of abnormal and delinquent behavior such as lying, cheating, fighting, truancy, disobedience, unsafe use of alcohol (not mention “unsafe sex”) and running away.

The perceived “normal” age for starting one-on-one dating in the groups studied was about age 13. While those who started younger than the norm suffered increased problems, the study also revealed that those who started later than the norm did not exhibit any ill effects from being out-of-step with their peers. That should be encouraging to serious Christian parents who, using eminent good sense, will frequently discourage one-on-one dating until relatively late in high school, or perhaps not in the high school years at all.

There was also a strong correlation between late dating and academic achievement. But in attempting to convert any of these correlations to causation, we would be wise to recall that parents who discourage or prohibit early dating are very likely better parents with stronger values in many other respects as well. Though inappropriate intimate relationships obviously cause many problems in and of themselves, common sense suggests that early one-to-one dating is frequently a symptom of other family deficiencies, deficiencies which might lead to behavioral problems even without dating.

We should also note another recent study showing that over a third of all dating teens report being physically, sexually or emotionally abused in dating relationships. Here is more evidence that a little parental common sense can go a long way.

See the Wall Street Journal’s report on The Data on Teen Dating and the USA Today report entitled Teen dating abuse is common and complex, studies say.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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  • Posted by: - Oct. 02, 2013 10:29 AM ET USA

    Dating as a 10 year old? This is an insane proposal. There is a natural period of innocence during a healthy childhood, when children lack interest in sexual matters. Modern society seeks to introduce thoughts of sexual activity before there is a natural interest. Why? It is all about control. When a person's sexual drive becomes disordered, they can be controlled very easily. Modern society has become spiritually blind, due in large part to our obsession with sex.

  • Posted by: shrink - Oct. 01, 2013 4:56 PM ET USA

    Jeff, you don't get it. Early teen dating is not the problem... it's teen unemployment. Your obsessions are starting to show ; > )