What Kids Need to Know Before They Start Dating

Teen Couple ArguingI recently read an article in the New York Times about a program in Idaho that is going to mentor middle and high school students about healthy relationships in order to reduce the rate of unhealthy relationships. The author mentioned that most teens don’t know what a healthy relationship is. I think this is very true for all ages, not just middle and high school students.

I know that a lot of parents aren’t comfortable talking to their younger children about dating and sex. Many parents don’t approve of programs at school that address these topics either. I, on the other hand, feel that these programs are necessary. The article mentioned above included the following statistics: “the highest rates of physical and sexual assault happen to women ages 16 to 24…, nearly one in ten high school students have been hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.” It makes more sense to try to educate kids about healthy relationships before bad things happen to them. Once abuse happens, it’s often too late.

Parents need to realize that whatever kids don’t learn at home or at school they will often learn on the street. As most of you know, information on the street isn’t always reliable. I don’t think talking to kids about healthy relationships encourages them to start dating; I think it helps them identify what’s normal and what’s not and prepares them for when they do start dating.

Honestly, I think that if people learn about healthy relationships vs. unhealthy ones, the rate of abuse in relationships would decrease. People would be able to detect early signs of abuse and know how to get out of an unhealthy relationship before it gets worse. I also think that the numbers of sexually active teens might also decrease. I think that a lot of times people start having sex because they’re pressured into it. Since you’re not supposed to feel that pressure in a healthy relationship, teens would probably wait until they’re older and more mature to have sex.