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From ‘Cool Kids’ Don’t Stay Cool Forever, Study Suggests

By Rachael Rettner, Senior Writer
Follow Rachael Rettner @RachaelRettner. Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

“The cool kids were also at greater risk for criminal activity and substance use problems at age 21 to 23. In fact, acting old for your age in middle school was a better predictor of drug problems in adulthood than was drug use in middle school.”

Eduhonesty: I don’t find this surprising. I’ve seen it too often. Kids crave excitement in early adolescence. A few seem to live for that rush. All you have to do is stand in a hallway when a fight starts. While some kids have the sense to keep their distance, others gravitate toward fights like bugs to bug zappers. They want in on any action. Crowd control becomes imperative at the same time that it becomes almost impossible. Since fights tend to start in crowded areas, like packed hallways during passing periods, teachers may struggle to diffuse a crisis even as kids rush toward the excitement.

The cool kids tend to be the exciting kids. “May you live in exciting times,” the old Chinese curse says. A curse for middle-school students might be, “May you have exciting friends.”

I offer this post as a cautionary note for parents. Parents who are becoming worried about their kids chosen peers need to act fast. Once a kid has become part of that cool crowd, he or she has often taken up risky behaviors that will be tough to extinguish. Parents might be able to stop some kids from learning to act older than their age by diverting those kids into different recreational activities or steering them toward less mature peers. Best efforts to stop risky behaviors come early, before Tommy or Jenna know where to score and whose house is empty during the afternoon.