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Although defined gay identity is not typical until later adolescence or early adulthood, "interacting with the opposite sex at this age can be part of the gay youth's attempts to resolve his or her identity questions," says Connolly.
"Parents, educators, and adolescents can benefit from knowing that light sexual behaviours can be considered normal at this time, whereas heavy sexual behavior, especially intercourse, is not," says Connolly.
Parents should always be on the lookout for signs of abuse, especially if their child is having sex.
Abuse has been found to increase with sex at a young age.
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.
"But I didn't start dating until I was 18," says Mom. According to one survey, nearly half of teens between the ages of 11 to 14 years old are dating.
More and more parents are faced with this dilemma today.
These behaviors are not healthy at this age and carry both behavioural and physical risks, emphasizes Connolly.
In her study published in the Journal of Research on Adolescence, Connolly found the majority of 12- and 13-year-old adolescents were largely confined to sexually "light activities." These include hugging, holding hands, and kissing.
The study also found that three out of four young teens have never sexually touched or been touched above or below the waist.
With this knowledge of the dating scene, why would anyone allow their tween to start dating?
"Teenagers often wonder two things: how to date and what a healthy relationship is," says Jennifer Connolly, Ph D, Director of the La Marsh Centre for Research on Violence and Conflict Resolution at York University.