Sept. 13, 2011
Are children better off growing up in a healthier environment and a higher socioeconomic class? This is all contingent on whom you ask. According to a recent study commissioned by the Australian Christian Lobby, this might not be the case.
The study, For Kids Sake: Repairing the Social Environment for Australian Children and Young People, noted that Australia ranks high on social development, education, and economic well being. However, there is something underlying: Increased reports of child abuse and neglect, as well as an increase in mental health disorders. These reports encompass all socioeconomic levels.
Why has this been occurring? According to the studys author, Patrick Parkinson, the increase in child abuse reports and mental health disorders can be attributed to one key factor: The breakdown of the family.
Living in a family other than that of the two biological parents before the age of 16 is well-documented as being associated with a wide range of adverse results for children's well-being.
Some people consider that the reason for this is that the adults who form stable marriages tend to be more well-adjusted and better off economically, so it is not so much the question of family structures but rather the personal characteristics of the parents that is the deciding factor.
Although this might be true to some extent the report quoted research that said studies using sophisticated statistical controls, including genetic factors, point in the direction of family breakdown being a significant cause of problems for children, rather than it just being the quality of the adults.
There is no doubt that the breakdown of the family has been a key contributor to the rise in mental illness and child abuse cases. Poor family relationships, marital unhappiness, and divorce all have negative impacts on a childs well being. The statistics are alarming, and children in the United States are experiencing the same effects as well.
What can be done to prevent the breakdown of the family? Parkinson suggests stronger marriage preparation and implementing and providing greater support for organizations that help families.
However, Parkinson is also forgetting one important point: Encouraging families to attend religious services. According to FRCs Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI), children who attend religious services weekly tend to be less depressed and that marriages tend to be stronger and happier when couples attend church together. Perhaps the greatest way to combat the breakdown of the family is through faith.