‘Acceptable’ divorce still hurts children

Children suffer if their parents split up just as much now as they did when it was less socially acceptable, a major study shows.

Research conducted over several decades shows that children of divorced parents are consistently more likely to end up on benefits, without qualifications, suffering from depression or experiencing the breakdown of their own marriages.

Until now, liberal academics claimed the negative consequences were due to the ‘stigma’ of divorce rather than the fact of family breakdown.

But new research published today shows that changing attitudes towards divorce have not diminished its impact on children’s lives.

The National Child Development Study periodically looks at 17,000 people born in the same week in 1958 and compares their lives with those born earlier and later.

Researcher Kathleen Kiernan comments: “It might be expected that as divorce has become more commonplace, its effects might have reduced. Yet a comparison with children born in 1970 shows that this is not the case.”

Divorce has “repercussions that reverberate through childhood and into adulthood,” the report concludes.

“Children from disrupted families tend to do less well in school and subsequent careers than their peers. They are also more likely to experience the break-up of their own partnerships.”

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