Tweens and dating
Putting limits on what kids can do gives them time to understand in a more relaxed and informal setting, while giving them the confidence and skills they will need to move away from group settings.
Like adults, most kids think their peers are having more sex than they actually are.
"Even in middle school studies, we have seen that abuse and aggression can occur.
It can happen out of the blue for a kid," Connolly says.
Connolly points to the reality that few kids actually rush onto the dating scene.
Instead, they spend time in casual group contexts where boys and girls are together.
"Although it varies by group, girls especially tend to have their own guidelines and rules that tend to limit extensive sexual relationships," says Connolly.
There is interest, but they are not coupled up, which is normal.
Kids can gain a lot from being in healthy supportive relationships; it adds to their sense of competence and self esteem.
In order to deal with this, parents must have good communication with their child, which may require outside help.
If your child is having sex in her early teens, Connolly suggests that parents speak with a family counsellor or a social worker.