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Journal Article


Douglas B, Orpinas P. J. Sch. Health 2019; ePub(ePub): ePub.


Department of Health Promotion and Behavior, Wright Hall-Health Sciences Campus, College of Public Health, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia.


(Copyright © 2019, American School Health Association, Publisher John Wiley and Sons)






OBJECTIVE: Prior research identified 4 distinct dating trajectories from 6th to 12th grade: Low, Increasing, High Middle School, and Frequent. The purpose of this study was to examine whether 10th graders in the Low dating group differed on emotional, interpersonal, and adaptive skills from youth in the other trajectories.

METHODS: The sample consisted of 594 10th graders. We compared the 4 dating groups using teacher ratings (social skills, leadership, depression) and student self-reports (positive relationships with friends, at home, and at school; depression, suicidal ideation). To compare scores by dating trajectory, we used chi-square test and analysis of variance.

RESULTS: Students in the Low dating group had significantly higher teacher ratings of social skills and leadership, and lower ratings of depression compared to the other groups. Self-reports of positive relationships did not differ by dating groups. Self-reported depression was significantly lower in the Low dating group, but suicidal ideations did not differ.

CONCLUSION: Adolescents who were not in a romantic relationship had good social skills and low depression, and fared better or equal to peers who dated. These results refute the notion that non-daters are maladjusted. Health promotion interventions in schools should include non-dating as one option of healthy development.

© 2019, American School Health Association.

Language: en


child and adolescent health; dating; emotional health; mental health; social development; social skills


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