by Theresa Walsh Giarrusso
A new poll shows that 79% of kids ages 11-14 surveyed have been in or are currently in a relationship and more than half (56%) feel it is important for people their age to have a boyfriend or girlfriend. Of those who are dating, 53% of kids ages 11-14 say it is hard to get out of an unhealthy relationship.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation sponsored the poll and a new initiative in 11 cities to help tweens learn about healthy relationships.
More information found from the polling:
“Although many youth say their friends are in healthy relationships, they also state a majority of people their age are confused about the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy relationship.
- 52% of 11- to14-year-olds say that people their age do not know or are unsure about the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy relationship.”
“Youth recognize it is important to get out of an unhealthy relationship, and they would rather not be in any relationship than be in an unhealthy one.
- 53% of 11- to14-year-olds say it is hard to get out of an unhealthy relationship.
- 77% of 11- to14-year-olds say they would rather not be in any relationship than be in an unhealthy one.”
“Youth as young as 11 are NOT reaching out to or listening to adults about dating and/or healthy relationships.
- 55% of 11- to14-year-olds would not talk to an adult if they saw their friend being threatened or abused by their boyfriend or girlfriend.
- 52% of 11- to14-year-olds feel people their age would not break up with their boyfriend or girlfriend if their parents told them to.”
“Although many of the 11- to14-year-olds who were surveyed know how to identify the most unhealthy relationship behaviors, this poll shows that many still do not have a clear sense of what it means to be in a healthy relationship,” says Kristin Schubert, Program Officer at Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “This age group offers a critical time to teach about healthy relationships as a way to prevent teen dating violence and abuse.”
So what are 11 to 14 year olds doing on these dates:
- “6 out of 10 (60%) of youth ages 11-14 say they go to a movie on a typical “date.”
- 57% say they hang out with a group of friends on a typical “date.”
- Almost half (47%) say they kiss on a typical ‘date.’”
So I’m baffled by this study and this report. I guess I’m having a hard time with the premise that 11-year-olds are dating. And of course they don’t know what makes a healthy relationship … because they are 11!
Now I believe the 13-and 14-year-olds are dating, and are being exposed to controlling girlfriends or boyfriends and pressure to do things they are not ready to do.
So what do you think about this survey and about the initiative to teach tweens about healthy relationships?
Is your 11-year-old dating? What about 12-year-old? When do kids start dating these days?
What is the best way to teach your tween/teen about what is appropriate in a relationship? What is healthy or unhealthy? Do you think they would discuss with you if their boyfriend/girlfriend was yelling at them or being controlling? Are they more likely to discuss that at 11 or at 16?
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