Children First: Middle School Dating - KOTA Territory News

Children First: Middle School Dating

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How young is too young to start dating? According to a recent study from the University of Georgia, middle school students who date are four times more likely to drop out of school and twice as likely to get into drugs.

One Rapid City family had dating guidelines when the kids were in middle school. It's piano practice, cleaning up after dinner and down time for Berkley Fierro and her family. The household has a routine and rules, even when it comes to dating. 

"It definitely helps keep you on the right track with how you should do dating," said Berkley Fierro, now a high school Junior.

Back in middle school, Berkley and her brothers could first go out in a group. Their mother, Lara Roetzel, says then it would move to the date could come over to the house if a parent was there.

"I can't tell you how many times they'd be watching movies in the basement and I would think of an excuse to walk down into the laundry room, just to make sure that everything was okay," said Roetzel.

Most of Berkley's friends had similar rules, but she knows of kids that didn't.

"I have seen where it has happened to people where they start dating too young or get into stuff too young and then by freshman year they have already gotten into some bad stuff because of it," said Berkley Fierro.

Bad stuff that can be avoided. Counselors say the age a kid should start dating varies. 

"Different youth, have different maturity levels and so some of it has to do with maturity. I think some of it has to do with family background and if parents believe whether their children should be dating or not dating,"  said Ronald Flemming, a counseling supervisor at Lutheran Social Services.

Cale Fierro thinks the dating guidelines his parents set will help him in the future.

"I think it is good to have rules in the beginning and just to try to set the standards for how dating should be in the rest of your life,"  said Cale Fierro, a high school Senior.

But in the beginning the teens might not have been too excited about the rules.

"At first I was annoyed but then you just kind of get used to it," said high school Freshman, Bennett Fierro.

Roetzel says the rules are there because she cares.

"There are a lot of kids that don't have rules, but I think it's important to give your kids that message of love and structure," said Roetzel.

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