Should tweens be dating?

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When I was eleven years old, I had a crush on a boy named Jeff. Unfortunately, Jeff only had eyes for Rachel and the two of them were considered a 'couple.' Back in those days, being a couple in sixth grade didn't mean anything more than eating lunch together and hanging out on the playground. They didn't see each other outside of school because at the age of 11, we were all too young to date.

These days, however, kids as young as 11 are dating, sometimes with harmful results. The National Domestic Violence Hotline conducted a survey of 1,043 tweens - kids aged 11 to 14 - and found that about half of them have been in dating relationships. The survey also found that almost 30 percent of tweens think oral sex and intercourse are expected in boyfriend/girlfriend relationships and many reported being harassed, bossed around and otherwise mistreated in their relationships. Some even related stories of abuse, including hitting, slapping and being pressured into have oral sex or intercourse.

"We're talking about a whole new cycle of abuse," said Sheryl Cates, chief executive of the NDVH. This new generation needs more education and services about healthy relationships, she said.

I agree that like most everything else, education is the key. I also think that an 11-year-old - no matter how mature - is too young to date. But reading this article makes me wonder just what is going on with boys today. We can assume that the majority of those who said they had been the victim of "controlling abuse" were girls. A boy interested in sex is one thing. A boy who will pressure you into having sex, "tell you what to do a lot," want to know "where you were all the time" or "who you were with all the time" is something else. What is that about?

For more information, check out the The National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline Website , where they offer support, information and advocacy for young people and those who care about them.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.