"Dating can be exciting and high energy but [generally] kids tend to prevent each other from becoming too intimate in those situations." Despite the statistics, there are some adolescents who become "couples" and engage in "heavy activities" such as petting or actual intercourse.
These behaviors are not healthy at this age and carry both behavioural and physical risks, emphasizes Connolly.
"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.
Kids can gain a lot from being in healthy supportive relationships; it adds to their sense of competence and self esteem.Despite the lack of commitments, kids are still gaining something from the experience - they are learning.This learning phenomenon seems to carry over to all teens, regardless of their sexual orientation.It also seems that peers play a role in holding adolescents back from going further."Although it varies by group, girls especially tend to have their own guidelines and rules that tend to limit extensive sexual relationships," says Connolly.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.