I can’t help thinking that because divorce is becoming increasingly common that society foolishly assumes children are more than ever capable of overcoming the split of their parents. This is just not true. Children find it as hard as ever to reconcile the breakdown of their parents’ marriage.
The research strongly backs my position and signals a need for greater school support. Perhaps we shouldn’t wait to see signs of distress, and instead offer support as soon as the breakup occurs:
Children of divorced parents are more likely to get bad exam results, drink, take drugs and develop eating disorders, a survey has shown.
Nearly two thirds of children who saw the break-up of their families claimed it had a negative effect on their GCSEs.
One in eight said they had used drugs or alcohol and almost a third said they ate more or less as a result.
The survey – commissioned by Resolution, a group that represents 6,500 family lawyers in England and Wales – looked at the experiences of 500 young people aged 14 to 22.
Resolution chairman Jo Edwards told the Times that the study had revealed just how far-reaching the impact of divorce can be.
She said: ‘The findings underline just how important it is that parents going through a split manage their separation in a way that minimises the stress and impact on the entire family.’ Each year, around 100,000 under-16s see their parents break-up. Many suffer long-term effects associated with the pressure the divorce process puts on them.
Of those surveyed, a third said that one parent had tried to turn them against the other parent and more than 25 per cent said they had been dragged into their parents’ arguments. Schooling is also adversely affected as children struggle to complete their homework.
Around 12 per cent admitted skipping lessons and 11 per cent found themselves increasingly in trouble with teachers as a result of a change in family circumstances.
Siôn Humphreys, a senior policy adviser at the National Association of Head Teachers, said that education was suffering because teachers are not trained to deal with the problem. She told the Times: ‘Teachers see day in, day out, the impact separation can have.
‘It would not be unusual for the school to be the first port of call to support the parent left holding the baby, but it is not necessarily something teachers are specially trained for.’
Last month, EU statistics for 2012 revealed that British children are more likely to be from single-parent families than anywhere else in Western Europe.
One in four now live with a lone mother or father, compared with around one in six across the EU.
The only EU country with a higher figure than Britain was the eastern state of Latvia. We are now ahead of Belgium, Denmark, Ireland and France, where the number of youngsters living with just one parent is dropping – or rising more slowly.
Harry Benson, of the Marriage Foundation, has urged policy-makers to take ‘essential’ steps in limiting the ‘host of negative social and economic implications’ of divorce.
Tags: Children and Divorce, Children of divorced parents, Children of divorced parents alcohol, Children of divorced parents drink, Children of divorced parents drugs, Children of divorced parents eating disorders, Children of divorced parents habits, Education, GCSE, Harry Benson Marriage Foundation, Jo Edwards, Resolution survey, Sion Humphreys