“This ‘liquid courage,’ which is far more common than other drugs, makes kids get over their natural modesty and social awkwardness,” says Kim Martyn, a long-time sexual health educator in Toronto.
Parents must acknowledge this reality and address safety issues around the risks of drinking, says Martyn, who’s also the mother of two young-adult daughters.
“That’s just in the movies,” says Brett, 14, of Aurora, Ont.“What happens in real life is you’ll be hanging out with your immediate circle of friends, including your girlfriend, and you go, ‘What’s everybody doing Friday night?Here is how 14-year-old Catherine started going out with the guy who is now her boyfriend.At recess one day, her best friend yelled over to the unsuspecting boy, “Catherine wants to snog!The peer group provides checks and balances, along with feedback about what’s OK and what’s not, so kids are less likely to get out of their depth — especially in terms of conflict, expectations for behaviour and sex.
With traditional one-to-one relationships, Connolly says, things tend to escalate much more quickly, simply because the couple is spending a lot of time alone.
A couple may never see or speak to each other outside of school, although they may well enjoy the new status accorded them by their peers.
These types of short-lived pairings — relationships in name only — jump in numbers by grades six and seven, when alcohol increasingly becomes part of many parties.
“We call it group dating, and we believe it can be really healthy and protective,” says Jennifer Connolly, a psychology professor at York University in Toronto who specializes in teen relationships.
Connolly, who has two adolescent daughters of her own, says that group dating is growing in popularity everywhere, including China and India.
’ You all decide to see a movie and you’ll all get separate drives there.