The Guardian October 22 2008
Children of parents who separate are four times as likely to develop emotional disorders than those in families that stay together, the Office for National Statistics said yesterday. A study of more than 5,000 children aged between eight and 19 found nine risk factors that were associated with the development of emotional problems such as anxiety, depression and obsessions. Top of the risk list was parental separation.
Researchers interviewed the children in 2004 and 2007. They found: “The odds of developing an emotional disorder were increased for young people in families where there had been a change in the number of parents between surveys.” About 11% of children in households with two parents in 2004 and only one in 2007 developed a disorder. The chances of one of these children developing a disorder were 4.5 times as high as for children who continued to have two parents, the ONS said.
For children with one parent in the household in 2004 and 2007, the chance of developing an emotional disorder was 1.5 times as high as for children who continued to have two parents. The researchers did not distinguish between families where the parents were married or cohabiting. They said marital breakup was one of nine “stressful life events” that were linked to emotional disorders, but could not be proved to be the cause of them.