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By Terry Vanderheyden

LONDON, February 21, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The number of children born outside of marriage has skyrocketed to 42% from 12% previously in 1980, according to statistics released from the UK’s Office for National Statistics.

“Although most children are born to married couples, this substantial rise in births outside marriage is a reflection of the rising trend in cohabiting parents,” said ONS editor Hayley Butcher, according to a BBC report.

The UK is fourth in Europe for number of births outside marriage, after Sweden, Denmark and France. The trend not only reflects higher rates of unwed partnering, but also higher rates of single mother parenthood.

Dr Peter Brierley, executive director of Christian Research, commented to the UK’s Telegraph that if current trends continue, more than half of UK children will be born out of wedlock by 2012. “If we get to the stage where more than half of children are born outside marriage, we are fundamentally changing the basis on which society has worked for centuries,” he warned. “A whole range of traditional thought about ‘home,’‘marriage’ and ‘living together’ will have to be re-examined.”

Dr Brierley cautioned that the big problem is the effect that unstable families will have on children. “Psychologists say the children from single-parent families do not achieve so much or behave so well as those raised by married families,” he said. “There is much more at stake here than statistics,” he added. “The implications are quite frightening.”

Children born from cohabiting couples are half as likely to be raised by both parents as those born to married parents, according to Essex University professor John Ermisch, who wrote a report for the Economic and Research Council.

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