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Love, Marriage and Happy Kids

Reports Show that Family Life Is Highly Beneficial

By Father John Flynn, LC

ROME, NOV. 28, 2007 (Zenit) - The increasing trend toward cohabitation as an alternative to marriage brings with it severe disadvantages for children. The latest confirmation of how children suffer when brought up outside a stable marriage between a man and a woman came in a lengthy article published Nov. 18 by the Associated Press.

The article reviewed evidence from a variety of sources, and commented that many scholars and social workers "say the risk of child abuse is markedly higher in the nontraditional family structures."

Among the studies cited by the Associated Press was that published in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2005. The journal reported that children living in households with unrelated adults are nearly 50 times as likely to die of inflicted injuries as children living with two biological parents.

Children living in stepfamilies or with single parents are at higher risk of physical or sexual assault, according to several studies co-authored by David Finkelhor, director of the University of New Hampshire's Crimes Against Children Research Center, the article continued.

"The risk (of abuse) to children outside a two-parent household is greater,'' Susan Orr, a child-welfare specialist in the Department of Health and Human Services, told the Associated Press.

The problem exists outside the United States also. On April 15 a British newspaper, the Sunday Telegraph, reported that seven children under age 16 had been murdered in London alone in the previous two months. Many crimes such as these are being committed by juveniles, the paper noted.

The news prompted politicians to promise more funding for disadvantaged communities, but the article commented that one of the main problems is that adolescents brought up in a single-parent family are more likely to end up in criminal activities. No fewer than 70% of young offenders are from single-parent families.

In England there are now three times the number of children being brought up just by their mothers than there were 30 years ago, the Telegraph added, resulting in one in every four children being raised without a father.

Divorce's bottom line

Divorce creates other difficulties, among them economic. A July 7 article from the British Telegraph newspaper reported that a study of more than 4,000 people found that on average, a man's income increases by 11% after divorce. By contrast, a woman suffers a drop of 17%.

Particularly at risk are the mothers of young children, who find it difficult to reconcile the demands of work and family responsibilities.

"We found that many women don't work at all after their marriage breaks down or have to work only part-time because they can't afford the cost of child care," commented Mieke Jansen, one of the authors of the study carried out by academics from the University of Antwerp in Belgium.

Similar problems were revealed in research carried out by the Australian Institute of Family Studies. According to a July 10 article from the newspaper The Australian, not only does divorce bring with it economic penalties but it also leads to unhappiness and harms both physical and mental health.

The study, titled "Divorce and the Well-being of Older Australians," compared divorced women who remain single to those who are widowed and stay single. Both men and women report problems of unhappiness and health, but women are particularly affected.

Another Australian newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald, reported Aug. 14 that marriage does indeed make people happier. During a visit to the country, Swiss economist Bruno Frey reported on the findings of a survey of 15,000 people over 17 years, examining the relationship between happiness and marriage. Frey said that one of the reasons people are happier in marriage is due to the greater level of commitment between the couple.

From England, a recent report by the Office for National Statistics found that married couples live longer and enjoy better health, reported the Times on Oct. 5. As well, children who live with their married parents are also healthier, and will remain in full-time education for longer.

Failure on the rise

In spite of ample evidence of the harm stemming from facilitating divorce, some countries continue to make it easier. The Spanish newspaper El País reported Nov. 16 that in 2006 the number of divorces increased by a stunning 74%. The rise occurred after the socialist government changed the divorce law in July 2005, allowing divorce proceedings to start without a period of one year's separation previously required.

Overall in Spain in 2006 there were 210,132 marriages, and 145, 919 marriages that failed -- between divorce, separations and marriages declared null.

According to a recent study by the ...

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