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.Groups can offer a safe, protective way for kids to learn.
Connolly suggests encouraging your child to hang out with their friends at your house where you can monitor them and watch them interact.
If you think your child is being abused, you need to engage your child in an open discussion in order to help.
"Parents should take an active role in teaching and helping their kids understand what normal dating behaviours are." By understanding what "healthy" dating is at this age, parents can set limits and protect their child.
At the end of the day, "it's better than saying they shouldn't date at all." "What is healthy is being in a group of boys and girls and transitioning from same-sex-only groups into groups in contact with the other sex," says Connolly.
It also seems that peers play a role in holding adolescents back from going further.
"Although it varies by group, girls especially tend to have their own guidelines and rules that tend to limit extensive sexual relationships," says Connolly.
In order to deal with this, parents must have good communication with their child, which may require outside help.
If your child is having sex in her early teens, Connolly suggests that parents speak with a family counsellor or a social worker.
Parents should always be on the lookout for signs of abuse, especially if their child is having sex.