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Six Rules for Teen Dating

Want to prevent your teens from becoming sexually active? Set some rules!

A parent's first line of defense against teenage sex is setting the rules for dating -- and being firm abou them. The following are some common sense suggestions:

1. Insist on a slow start. Do what you can to discourage early, frequent, and steady dating at least until age 16.

Early, frequent, and steady dating is one of the single biggest risk factors for teenage sexual activity. Hold the line.

2. Establish dating rules and expectations. Establish rules early on for such things as curfews and dating activities -- before your teen starts coming up with his or her own plans.

3. Teach your teen to date responsibly. Encourage your teenager to avoid sexually stimulating TV shows, videos, and movies when dating.

Teach your daughters to reject boys' lines, such as, "If you really love me, you'll do this for me," or "You know we both want to, so don't act like such a prude." And teach your sons not to say such things.

4. Don't allow your teens to date older persons. Teenage girls tend to have their first sexual experience with male partners who are three or more years older.

For teenage boys, their first sexual encounter is likely to be with girls who are less than a year older. Be smart. Only allow your teenager to date persons of the same age.

5. Have them date in groups. Encourage your teenager to hang out in groups.

When dating, encourage your teen to date with a buddy or friend. They can help each other out of difficult or tempting situations.

6. Always meet and greet. Insist that you meet the person dating your son or daughter each time before they go out. This will establish the message that you are watching.

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