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11-Year-Olds Dating -- Is This OK?!

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Moms -- better sit down for this one. A new study shows that 79 percent of kids aged 11 to 14 say they have been in a relationship. Say what?!

girl kissing boy

In a national effort to stop teen dating abuse, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation conducted a major opinion poll targeting the country's tweens. Here are the facts:

  • 47 percent say they kiss on a typical "date."
  • 56 percent feel it is important for people their age to have a boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • 53 percent of kids aged 11 - 14 say it is hard to get out of an unhealthy relationship.
  • 55 percent of 11- to 14-year-olds would not talk to an adult if they saw a friend being threatened or abused by their boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • 52 percent of 11- to 14-year-olds feel people their age would not break up with their boyfriend or girlfriend if their parents told them to.

Yikes.

"Although many of the 11- to 14-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, a program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Too soon to talk to your child about dating? You decide!


next: Adoption's Verbal Land Mines
33 comments so far | Post a comment now
Carolyn March 12, 2010, 11:01 AM

I don’t think it’s ever too early to talk to your kids about dating. My 5 year old is already talking about boyfriends. I think you need to set some bounderies early on that make you as a parent feel comfortable. Let your kids know what is (and isn’t) okay with you. Holding hands, kissing, dating, group dates… In my opinion, 11 is way too young, but I think 14 is old enough to have a “boyfriend” as long as it is more on the “friend” side and you monitor their “dates”.

Jozet at Halushki March 12, 2010, 11:12 AM

Here’s what you do when you’re 11 to 14 years old:

Lots of chores
Homework
Dog walking business
Lemonade stands
Single gender scouts
Supervised church groups
45 minutes of intense conditioning training
More homework
Learn to cook
Read
Write
Draw
Learn an instrument
Learn a language
More homework
Spend more time with your mom and dad
Go with a group of friends to the movies or a sports game supervised
Play backgammon
Learn to knit
Help at a local shelter
Plant trees
Clean up a park
Scrape wallpaper


If you are 11 years old and you are “dating” and this “dating” is causing you any amount of trouble or angst, or if upon questioning your parents feel that you have no clue as to what a healthy “relationship” is, then your parents will take away your cell phone, take away your social networking Internet, and insist that you fill your time with more of the above. That’s for starters.

“52 percent of 11- to 14-year-olds feel people their age would not break up with their boyfriend or girlfriend if their parents told them to.”

Oh, honey. We’re going to go through some self-esteem bootcamp, that’s what we’re going to do.

Sue March 12, 2010, 11:16 AM

Do you not remember being a kid? I had my first boyfriend and ‘kiss’ in the 5th grade. I surely wasn’t the only one either. That’s all anyone talked about from the 5th grade forward. Also, I don’t think these ‘relationships’ are as serious as some may think. I broke up with my ‘boyfriend’ via another friend. This was 15 years ago, and I don’t think much has changed. I will certainly talk to my kids from a young age and be involved in their lives, but really they are going to be kids at the same time. Don’t stress so much over nothing!

Leah March 12, 2010, 12:13 PM

I don’t know ANY kids who are below 14 that are “dating”, kissing, etc. aside from the kids whose parents let the kids run the show. I had crushes, like “oh he’s cute” at 12/13 but that was the extent. And that’s about how far I’ll allow it with my children. I was not allowed to “date” until 15 - and that was only group dates and not allowed to have a boyfriend at that age. My husband has decided that our children don’t even need to go on “alone” dates before 16/17 and I completely agree. We talk very openly about sex, relationships, etc in our house and aren’t even concerned about abstinence/waiting for marriage but we are concerned with allowing our children to be children and take their time maturing and find out who they are - they don’t need to be worried about relationships.

Jozet at Halushki is dean on!!

Alexis March 21, 2010, 11:02 PM

I’m with Sue. I remember my childhood and I got my first kiss in the 3rd grade. It was more of a sweet thing than anything. We had our little boyfriends, but we “went out”(or at least claimed to because we never actually dated) for a couple of weeks and then moved on. It was non-physical (maybe a kiss or two) and sweet. Now 14 year olds on the other hand…I know that in our old jr. High school, their were some 14 year olds who went way too far too fast.

Thank you for raising awareness among parents about this issue. We would like to point out that this poll was not representative or scientific, so we cannot generalize about whether kids 11 to 14 are dating, or other results of the poll. Only a small group of kids in 9 cities were surveyed in this teen-led poll by Start Strong, which still shows the need to talk with kids about this issue. The questions in this poll were developed by teens as part of Start Strong: Building Healthy Teen Relationships, an initiative funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. We are proud of the young people working in their communities to promote healthy relationships and help their younger peers avoid dating violence and abuse. Thank you for recognizing their efforts as well and bringing this to parents’ attention.

Francesca June 6, 2010, 7:21 PM

Hello, and I’m actually not a mom, I’m in the age group being discussed (I’m not going to display my real age) and yes, most kids in my grade have or have had a boyfriend or girlfriend, including myself. We commonly say we’re “going out” but nobody goes on 1 on 1 dates. Most of the action is just at school, like sitting next to each other and stuff. Some people have kissed, but not everyone. And at some point most people go on a “group date” or a “double date.” And just to point out the true innocence of this, it’s usually between 4-8 kids, most of the time at least 2 of them are “going out”, going to the movies or roller skating or something. Depending on the maturity level of the particular kids, a chaperone will either sit in the other side of the theatre room. But if one or all of the kids has a cell phone (most kids my age have cellphones) the chaperone might go see another movie and occasionally check in via text message. But there’s really nothing for parents to stress out about. It’s not like your 11 year old child has just asked you to spend the weekend in a hotel with their new boyfriend! And I know, i may seem a little mature to be in this age group, but I assure you, I’m not some creep pushing you to send your kids to the movies by themselves, I’m between 11-14 (once again, I’m not supposed to display my age to strangers)

Sapletree August 23, 2010, 7:11 PM

Ok, hello. I am Sapletree. I am in 6th grade an yes, I have had a boyfriend before. He was the meanest guy!!!!! He cussed me out and sprained my finger in math class. I told on him;) I’m not really a ‘tell on someone’ type of typical person first of all. So yes my first boyfriend was in 5th grade. I have never gone on a “date” before I’ve jus ‘gone out’ with him. To be (Just my opinion) I think you should let them date IF you think they are ready and mature enough. You should talk them about the ‘bird and bees before you do let them date. Choose carefully because this one moment could determine the rest of there future.
-Sapletree

Sapletree August 23, 2010, 7:15 PM

Ok, hello. I am Sapletree. I am in 6th grade an yes, I have had a boyfriend before. He was the meanest guy!!!!! He cussed me out and sprained my finger in math class. I told on him;) I’m not really a ‘tell on someone’ type of typical person first of all. So yes my first boyfriend was in 5th grade. I have never gone on a “date” before I’ve jus ‘gone out’ with him. To be (Just my opinion) I think you should let them date IF you think they are ready and mature enough. You should talk them about the ‘bird and bees before you do let them date. Choose carefully because this one moment could determine the rest of there future.
-Sapletree

Mya October 5, 2010, 10:46 PM

Well i sorta dont think this is true because im 11 and very popular and havenet had my first boyfriend kiss or hug yet so…..yea lolzx

Anonymous October 5, 2010, 10:54 PM

its really not that serious we juss sort of try 2 gain more popularity from 1 another by dating honestly a parent can tell a child not 2 date but they r gonna do it anyways come on get real your parents cant follow you to school no disrespect but you parents remember what it was like being our age juss give us a break

bobbie October 21, 2010, 10:45 PM

I think it is ok (i an 11) i do not have one right now but you have to get real it is just us saying we both like eachother and evreything else they said was right too and remember parents think about you guys’ lives as kids! :-) ~PEACE OUT~ ~Bobbie PS:(and yes i am a girl)

Surveys That Pay Money November 5, 2010, 4:39 AM

I started taking surveys a few months ago and continually to produce small change each and every now and then, but nothing to survive off of like they claim. I mostly just make small purchases on-line through PayPal as soon as I get paid so it is not too bad.

Annie November 6, 2010, 2:17 PM

I’m 11 your probaby thinking ugh she doesnt know a thing or oh she’s only been on this earth for 11 years! Well look, some of us are smarter that you think we are. If you’ve raised a good 11-14 year old with a good head on his or her shoulders you need to learn to trust your kids. There never gonna learn there right and wrongs from not being able to do anything. This is my first boyfriend and my first kiss. Also, I think its normal…. you may not but you know this is my opinion. Hope this helps a little… (:

Ashley January 15, 2011, 8:35 AM

well im dating someone @ age 11 to its ok :p:p;p;P

johanna January 19, 2011, 10:18 AM

jag är söt

Anonymous January 23, 2011, 5:41 AM

Hi, I’m in this age group and my friends go on “dates” with other friends around. The only thing they do is have races at the ice rink, maybe sit next to each other in the food court at the mall, and give a one armed hug to say good bye. These are the most serious things that happen! In my opinion, dating is ok if your just doing small things like these.

Chasity February 6, 2011, 1:00 PM

I’m 11 and yes I have had a boyfriend but my mom and grandma have taught me well. They say if I go out with a boy and he treat me wrong (like cuss me out, hit me, or act like all he want is a kiss) dump him. And I really did listen. I’ve had like 3 boyfriends and i’ve only kissed one I really liked. So I say we should be able to ‘go out’

austin February 10, 2011, 11:13 PM

im nices to
people

austin February 10, 2011, 11:16 PM

i love dogs


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