Spring is here, and along with spring we generally see an increase in some of our Ospreys engaging in early “dating” behavior. We hear about secret attempts to kiss on the playground, numerous whispers about who “likes” whom, or who is “going out” with whom, and fights over rumors being spread. As our students gain increased access to texting and social media, this “dating” behavior seems to have spread further throughout the school, particularly in fourth and fifth grades. However, our third graders are not immune to this trend as they hear rumors on the bus and from older siblings.
MBS administration, guidance counselors, and teachers have a firm and clear stance on this topic. “Dating,” “going out,” or any type of romantic relationships are simply not allowed in elementary school. We realize some parents may disagree with this stance, and let our students know that what they do outside of school is not our business, as long as it STAYS outside of school. When text messages or Facebook posts become topics of whispers and arguments in school, the problem becomes one we have to face, and students will be held accountable for their behavior.
Why are we so adamant in this stance? After all, who doesn’t remember getting “crushes” in elementary school? Isn’t this just a harmless part of growing up? Not so fast. A recent study at the University of Georgia (http://bit.ly/10dMEQ2) examined the early dating behavior of 624 children between sixth and twelfth grades. The study was recently reported in Newsweek magazine (http://thebea.st/Zv2SRm).
The study found a distinct link between early “dating” behavior and other risk-taking behaviors such as drug and alcohol use. Furthermore, students who engaged in early “dating” behaviors had weaker study skills and work habits than those who avoided romantic entanglements. Students are distracted from the business of learning when they engage in “dating” behaviors before they are emotionally or intellectually prepared to handle the outcomes. As stated by the authors of the study, “Dating a classmate may have the same emotional complications of dating a co-worker,” Orpinas said. “When the couple splits, they have to continue to see each other in class and perhaps witness the ex-partner dating someone else. It is reasonable to think this scenario could be linked to depression and divert attention from studying.”
We understand that our students who are “dating” are playing at relationships, just our as preschoolers play “house” during free play. In the case of ten and eleven year olds, however, the situation is not at all harmless. We encounter hurt feelings, bullying behaviors, and even behaviors that fall under the legal definition of sexual harassment. We want elementary school to be a safe, fun and productive experience for our Ospreys. To that end, we do not allow them to play at “dating.”
Categories : Uncategorized