Groups can offer a safe, protective way for kids to learn.
It can happen out of the blue for a kid," Connolly says.
Dating is only one of many possible ways to develop self-esteem.
"Kids at this age want relationships that are fun, and that can bring them together to learn about boys and girls. Unlike someone in their 30s, young teens want to experience dating from a much less committed and long-term perspective.
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.