The New York Times Magazine draws from IWF’s college dating survey and “Take Back the Date” campaign in its profile of a similar trend among high school students, who have also become immersed in the “hooking up” culture.
The decline in dating and romantic relationships on college campuses has been deplored often enough. By 2001, it had become so pronounced that a conservative group, the Independent Women’s Forum, was compelled to take out ads in college papers on the East Coast and in the Midwest pleading with students to ”Take Back the Date.” But their efforts don’t seem to have paid off. The trend toward ”hooking up” and ”friends with benefits” (basically, friends you hook up with regularly) has trickled down from campuses into high schools and junior highs — and not just in large urban centers. Cellphones and the Internet, which offer teenagers an unparalleled level of privacy, make hooking up that much easier, whether they live in New York City or Boise.
And yet, still, many date. Or sort of, falling out of romantic relationships into hookups and back again. When teenagers do date, they often do so in ways that would be unrecognizable to their parents, or even to their older siblings. A ”formal date” might be a trip to the mall with a date and some friends. Teenagers regularly flirt online first, and then decide whether to do so in real life. Dating someone from your school is considered by many to be risky, akin to seeing someone from the office, so teenagers tend to look to nearby schools or towns, whether they’re hoping to date or just to hook up.
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