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Dating Trajectories From Middle to High School: Association With Academic Performance and Drug Use


  • This study was funded by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Cooperative Agreement U81/CCU417778, and research grants R01 CE001397 and R49 CE000562. The findings and conclusions in this study are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the funder.


This study identifies trajectories of dating from sixth to twelfth grade and describes the academic performance (teacher-rated study skills and high school dropout) and self-reported drug use associated with these trajectories, in a diverse sample randomly selected in sixth grade. Using a group-based, semiparametric procedure, we identified four dating trajectories: low (16%), increasing (24%), high middle school (22%), and frequent (38%). Students in these latter two groups had significantly worse study skills, were four times more likely to drop out of school, and reported twice as much alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use than students in the low and increasing dating groups. This study highlights the diversity of dating trajectories and some of the risks associated with early dating.