By Gudrun Schultz

UNITED STATES, January 16, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The U.S Center for Marriage and Family released a study in November 2005 that shows broken family structures consistently lead to education difficulties for children.

“When it comes to educational achievement,” the study says, “children living with their own married parents do significantly better than other children.”

The report found that children from non-intact families (children living in a situation other than with their own married father and mother) have significantly higher rates of difficulty with all levels of education, from pre-kindergarten through to primary, secondary, and college-age levels. Each year a child spends with a single mother or stepparent “reduces that child’s overall educational attainment by approximately one-half year” suggests the report.

The study, a comprehensive review of recent academic research on the relationship between family structures and children’s academic performance, compared education outcomes from children growing up with their own married parents to children in non-intact family structures such as divorced, single, remarried or cohabiting parents.

Family structure was consistently found to be the deciding factor in a wide range of child behaviors that directly influence academic performance, including emotional and psychological distress, attention disorders, social misbehavior, substance abuse, sexual activity and teen pregnancy. Children from non-intact homes had higher rates of stress, depression, anxiety and low self-esteem, particularly as teenagers.

The study found that preschool children from broken homes were three times more likely to suffer from attention deficit disorders than children from intact homes. Children from single-parent homes suffered from more physical health problems, as well. Pre-school children from single-parent homes were also less likely to be read to or given help with letter-recognition.
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  During elementary school, children from non-intact families scored consistently lower on reading comprehension and math, and had more difficulty maintaining their grade levels overall. Children from married parents had much lower rates of behavioral problems in the classroom than children who did not live with married parents. In particular, boys from broken marriages showed a higher rate of classroom misbehavior.

For teenagers, students from broken homes were 30 percent more likely to miss school, be late, or cut class than students from intact homes, in part because single parents had more difficulty monitoring their children. These children were also at higher risk for smoking, using drugs and consuming alcohol.

Teenagers from non-intact families were more likely to be sexually active and had higher rates of pregnancy. Girls from divorced single-mother homes were at greatest risk for teenage pregnancy.

The study also found that children who were in a single-parent or step-parent home by the time they were ten were more than twice as likely to be arrested by age 14. Children who never lived with their own father had the highest likelihood of being arrested.

The study reports that a majority of U.S. children will have spent a significant part of their childhood in a one-parent home by the time they reach 18. Single parent homes in the U.S. nearly doubled in the period from 1968-2003.

Family Structure and Children’s Educational Outcomes:
http://www.americanvalues.org/briefs/edoutcomes.htm