Children from broken homes are at ‘high risk’ of abuse

Children from broken homes are more likely to suffer abuse than those whose parents remain together, a new NSPCC study has warned.

The study, which examined child cruelty over the past 30 years, listed children whose parents separated during their childhood as a “high risk” group.

In 2008 it emerged that the Government had stopped collecting statistics on the relationship between child abuse and family type, prompting accusations that it was trying to bury the truth.


One of the new report’s key findings, which were based on interviews with thousands of children and young adults, was that family breakdown was a risk factor for abuse.

The report, entitled Child Cruelty in the UK 2011, found that “those with separated parents reported significantly higher levels of physical violence, coerced sexual acts, regular verbal aggression and parental lack of care and supervision during childhood.”

The writers added: “The study shows that while abused and neglected children come from all backgrounds, some children can, at times, face greater risk of abuse, neglect and harm than others.


“They include children from violent families, children with separated parents, children from lower socio-economic groups and children whose parents misuse drugs, alcohol or are mentally ill.”

It continued: “Such children should be a priority for public policy and practice. Local agencies should take a joined up ‘think adult, think child’ approach where family issues such as parental mental health problems or domestic violence are identified.”

The study was based on interviews with 1,761 young adults aged between 18 and 24, who were asked about their childhood experiences. The researchers also carried out 2,275 interviews with children aged between 11 and 17.


In November a Government minister warned that kids from broken families are suffering poor outcomes and it is costing the nation up to a staggering £100 billion a year.

Children raised in single parent households are nine times more likely to begin a life of crime than those raised by both parents, according to the stark warning by Iain Duncan Smith.

The Work and Pensions Secretary slammed Labour for undermining the role of the family, warning it had led to more crime, more poverty and poorer prospects for children.


Mr Duncan Smith, who made the comments at the annual conference of the Relate counselling service, said: “It is important that we recognise the role of marriage in building a strong society, especially if we want to give children the best chance in life.”

“Sadly the last Government seemed determined to undermine marriage – for example, by removing references to it from official forms”, he commented.

He added: “All the evidence shows that family influences educational outcomes, job prospects, and even life expectancy.”


Mr Duncan Smith cited evidence, collected by a number of official bodies, showing the difficulties faced by children from lone-parent families.

He said: “Lone-parent families are more than twice as likely to live in poverty than two-parent families.”

“Only 30 per cent of young offenders grew up with both parents. Children from broken homes are nine times more likely to become young offenders”, he warned.

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