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The chances that a child will smoke, skip school, run away from home, or get into trouble with the law are "somehow related to the nature of families," according to a new Stanford University study.

Children living with stepparents or single parents are more likely than other children to exhibit "deviant" behavior, as are youngsters given autonomy in decisionmaking at an early age, the study found, according to Sanford Dornbusch, Reed-Hodge professor of human bi-ology, sociology, and education, and the author of the study.

The study, which Mr. Dornbusch said he and his research team worked on for three years, was based on an evaluation of National Health Exam survey data of 12,000 youths. The sample was large enough so that researchers were able to substantiate the findings across groups differing by race, level of parents' education, and income, Mr. Dornbusch said.

According to Mr. Dornbusch, the problems displayed by youths with stepparents was a "surprising result" of the analysis. The findings with regard to single-parent families confirm other research based on less exhaustive data, he said.

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