Teenage Dating Should Not Be Taken Lightly
by Dan Blankenship
We’ve all heard the expression hindsight is 20/20. Well I would like to take that a step further and say that hindsight can actually be X-ray vision. It was not until a few years after I entered the workforce that I realized how badly I squandered away my high school education. It’s not that I didn’t graduate; I did that. But I never took my primary education seriously, mostly because I had another topic on my mind – girls. In my case, the only subject I wanted an A in was Dating-101. I would advise current and future students to not follow my example.
Now I am sure there are some who just read my first paragraph and have labeled me a prude, but I challenge readers to give me a few more lines to state my case.
I doubt many would argue with the fact that dating in high school (not to mention some children who are allowed to date in middle school) is a serious topic, worthy of serious discussion, yet I just don’t see the topic being talked about. Or should I say, I don’t see the subject being discussed in a matter that seriously addresses the option of not dating during a child’s most important educational years. The parents and teenagers I’ve talked to rarely consider the option of no dating as a serious possibility. It seems no one wants to talk about the fact that dating can be an emotional roller-coaster ride, often leading to more stress and discouragement for students already burdened by an ever-increasing workload.
Can anyone deny that there are parents who spend more time deciding which cell phone plan to purchase than whether or not they should support their child’s resolution to be a dating student?
Just before I started writing this column, I performed a Google search under “teenage dating”. The first two sites that popped up were one concerning “dating horror stories” and one talking about “teen date violence”. A Google search of “cell phones” turned up no such negative results.
Today’s parents, as with yesterday’s parents, are too busy to research the facts concerning teenage dating. Yet, we are not too busy to check out all of the facts about the cars we are considering purchasing. We are not too busy to examine all of the features our new widescreen televisions. Can we afford to be lax when discussing (or not discussing) the dangers of dating with our children. Not only can teenage dating distract a student from maintaining an acceptable GPA, according to a Journal of the American Medical Association, “almost 1 in 5 female high-school students said they had experienced physical and/or sexual violence in a dating relationship.” (1)
I believe most parents and students would not get on an airplane if there were statistics showing 1 in 5 airplanes were destined to hit major turbulence and thrash the passengers about like rag dolls. Are we doing any better when we ignore the facts concerning dating?
We have laws that limit the age a person can drive a car, vote, and drink a beer, yet we allow children (at just about any age) to put themselves into relationships that can result in irreparable damage to their academic, physical, and emotional well-being. Even children who manage to date and avoid the dangerous statistics need to realize what could happen in a relationship.
For me, dating in school was something I was not mature enough to deal with. I learned my lesson after the damage was done. It is my sincere hope that this column starts some real discussion on the issue of teen dating.
(1) Silverman, J.G., Raj, A., Mucci, L.A., & Hathaway, J.E. 2001. Dating violence against adolescent girls and associated substance use, unhealthy weight control, sexual risk behavior, pregnancy, and suicidality. Journal of the American Medical Association, 286, 572-579.
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