Should Best Friends Be Allowed?

Posted by Amanda M. Fairbanks


This whole business of being a kid sure has become more complicated.

As it concerns friend-making, for teenagers at least, the more friends they have that attend the same school, the better. After sampling several hundreds of 12th graders in Los Angeles, researchers concluded that having more friends at the same school (versus those that attended other schools) yielded higher grade point averages and better grades. Makes sense, so long as kids are picking the right friends in bulk.

Along these same lines, if friend-making in large quantities is encouraged, today's New York Times reports that educators are asking an altogether different question: "Should a child really have a best friend?"

A survey by Harris Interactive reports that of 3,000 Americans between the ages of 8 and 24, 94 percent reported having at least one close friend. But with worries about cliques and bullying, school administrators and teachers are admonishing against the exclusivity of such a one-on-one bond.

But close friendships at a young age enable us to do all sorts of things later on—to learn how to argue and then make up, to empathize with others, to listen, to console. The Times asks, "If children's friendships are choreographed and sanitized by adults, the argument goes, how is a child to prepare emotionally for both the affection and rejection likely to come later in life?"

So, is this the end of the best friend? Or is more really better?

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