Tag archives: Mental Health

Proposing Marriage: A Solution to Child Poverty

by Sharon Barrett

September 28, 2012

As Maria Reig Teetor, MARRI intern wrote recently, social science shows a clear link between family structure and mental health. For instance, a study on child poverty found that children who grow up in poor families are more likely to develop depression and personality disorders. Maria explains:

Poor children are exposed to a wide range of risk factors that affect their social and emotional development. The environment they grow up in is surrounded by drug abuse, inadequate nutrition, crime, parental instability, divorce, maternal depression….

This environment also causes the children to externalize their emotional turmoil with behavior outbursts such as delinquency or drug and sexual abuse. In short, poverty affects children and has grave consequences.

Just as mental health disorders are linked to child poverty, so is child poverty linked to non-intact family structure. Poverty does not occur in a vacuum. Since the 1960s, marriage rates and employment rates have declined in tandem. In the 2010s we see the full-blown effects of the divorce revolution and the sexual revolution. With the devaluing of the intact family, we also suffered a deficit in human capital and an inflation of poverty rates. Original research published by MARRI explains the statistics:

55 percent of U.S. children entering adulthood in 2008 had experienced the breakup of their family of origin.

This number is even more staggering when we see it alongside the number of children living in poverty conditions in 2010: 43%. Furthermore,

Up to 20 percent of [American] children are unequipped to compete in the modern economy because of a lack of essential skills formed within the intact married family.

When this is combined with the high risk of mental health disorders, poor children are at an overwhelming disadvantage. But look closely at the reason:

Family planning policies have undermined fertility rates and simultaneously discouraged marriage and encouraged out-of-wedlock births. Among its main target group, the poor, marriage has virtually disappeared, and been replaced with serial cohabitation [emphasis mine].

The solution to the child poverty crisis is not a social program, but a simple proposal: marriage, which Maria Reig Teetor calls the strongest anti-poverty weapon. Reviving a culture of marriage can help restore the benefits of the intact family to those who need them most: poor children.

The Hidden Health Risks of Terminating Pregnancy

by Krystle Gabele

February 22, 2012

Clarke Forsythe and Mailee Smith of Americans United for Life recently penned an op-ed in The Washington Times regarding a hearing that will be taking place in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit on Planned Parenthood v. Rounds, a case disputing a South Dakota statute, which was enacted in 2005, that mandates all women receive information of the medical risks of an abortion.

Planned Parenthood filed suit to prevent the South Dakota statute from becoming law, and one might be curious to know why they would prevent informed consent. Is it wrong for a woman to know the risks that may happen to her body during such a procedure? Besides ending the life of her unborn child, there are potential medical risks stemming from death to the emotional impact after the procedure.

There have been numerous studies that found an association between abortion and suicide. Other studies have found a link between abortion and depression (which is a major risk factor for suicide). For example:

A 1995 study by A.C. Gilchrist in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that in women with no history of psychiatric illness, the rate of deliberate self-harm was 70 percent higher after abortion than after childbirth.

A 1996 study in Finland by pro-choice researcher Mika Gissler in the British Medical Journal found that the suicide rate was nearly six times greater among women who aborted than among women who gave birth.

A 2002 record-linkage study of California Medicaid patients in the Southern Medical Journal, which controlled for prior mental illness, found that suicide risk was 154 percent higher among women who aborted than among those who delivered.

My colleague, Jeanne Monahan, recently mentioned in her op-ed, The mental toll of abortion, that there have been a large number of informed consent laws passed in state legislatures throughout the country. Isnt better that a woman receive more information for such an important decision?

The question remains: What is Planned Parenthood so afraid of? Are they afraid that the information will save a life, or are they afraid of the fact that a woman might be concerned on the long-term ramifications of having an abortion?

Australian Report Shows Kids are Healthier, Wealthier…yet Worse Off

by Krystle Gabele

September 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.

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