This is one for the kids. I remember being in middle school and wanting the approval of the other kids around me, wanting more than anything to fit in and be cool, at almost any cost. And then there were the boys. Navigating the slippery slopes of new-found gender differences and figuring out how to act around them was a foreign concept.
Well, according to this study it turns out that it’s better to stay far far away! A new study recently performed at the University of Georgia sites dating in middle school as key factor to higher rates of high school dropout and drug use. The statistics are actually alarming – dating in middle school worsens study skills, and these adolescents are four times more likely to dropout and twice as likely to use alcohol, tobacco and marijuana than students who stay single.
It’s common fact that new types of relationships are forged during the adolescent years however, this research is the first to study just how these types of relationships can affect a student’s course because of a romantic relationship at such a young age. The research also had the participation of teachers that recorded the performance of their students – both in relationships and single. In students that never were in a relationship or were hardly in a relationship, they had the best study skills consistently. Those students who were almost always in a relationship had been dating since sixth grade and had low study skills.
One researcher sited the idea that dating within a classroom is similar to dating a coworker. it can create unnecessary tension and heartache when the couple breaks up and in some cases one or both people go on to date other people. The study suggests that dating does not have to be a rite of passage in order for adolescents to prove their worth to each other or themselves.
Further research goes onto show that kids who drop out of high school also have a higher likelihood of picking up bad habits in relation to tobacco, alcohol, marijuana and other drugs. Youth who drop out are twice as likely to be smokers and almost twice as likely to use illicit drugs and prescription drugs (for a non-medical reason). In the long-term these youth in large numbers have a significant impact on the national health system lending themselves to higher risks for poverty, health problems and health-related issues without having insurance. Keeping youth in school and in focus is a great first step in aligning with this goal.
Cindy Nichols is the founder of 411 Intervention, a full-service intervention resource that helps individuals with addiction issues find treatment solutions. You can see an interview with Cindy here on Recovery Now TV.