Study Highlights Children’s Woes Prior to Breakups

By Deborah L. Cohen — June 19, 1991 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Many of the behavioral problems displayed by children whose parents divorce are evident before the break0 up, according to a longitudinal study of the effects of divorce on children in the United States and Britain.0

The study, reported in the June 7 issue of the journal Science, noted that previous studies “leave no doubt” that, on average, children of divorced parents experience more emotional and behavioral problems and are less successful in school than those from intact families.

While most previous studies have focused on the period after divorce, however, the new study collected de0 tailed data on the period before the separation as well and compared children affected by divorce with those from intact families.

The findings, the authors conclud0 ed, suggest that family problems or discord before parents’ breakup may play as much of a role in children’s

Cognizant of the impact that the growing number of children of di vorced parents is having on the class0 room, many schools have launched counseling programs to help ease such pupils through difficult family transitions that may hamper their ability to learn. (See Education Week, June 14, 1989.)$

But the new data suggest that “teachers should be attuned to the problems kids may have in troubled intact marriages” and that “schools might consider offering support ser0 vices” for those children as well, said Andrew J. Cherlin, a professor of soci0 ology at Johns Hopkins University and the study’s principal researcher. The study, conducted by Mr. CherH0 lin and six other U.S. and British re$searchers, is based on two longitudi

In comparing the data on children whose parents divorced or separated during that time and those whose families remained intact, the re searchers concluded that “a sub stantial portion of what is usually considered the effect of divorce on children is visible before the parents separate,” particularly for boys.$

In both surveys, about half the be havioral and academic problems among the boys of parents who broke up were present before the separa tion. The same pattern held “to a less er but still noticeable extent” for girls in the British survey.

A version of this article appeared in the June 19, 1991 edition of Education Week as Study Highlights Children’s Woes Prior to Breakups


Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: November 17, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Nearly a Million Kids Vaccinated in Week 1, White House Says
Experts say there are signs that it will be difficult to sustain the initial momentum.
4 min read
Leo Hahn, 11, gets the first shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. Last week, U.S. health officials gave the final signoff to Pfizer's kid-size COVID-19 shot, a milestone that opened a major expansion of the nation's vaccination campaign to children as young as 5. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Education How Schools Are Getting Kids the COVID Shot, and Why Some Aren’t
Some district leaders say offering vaccine clinics, with the involvement of trusted school staff, is key to helping overcome hesitancy.
5 min read
A girl walks outside of a mobile vaccine unit after getting the first dose of her COVID-19 vaccine, outside P.S. 277, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Education Biden Administration Urges Schools to Provide COVID-19 Shots, Information for Kids
The Biden administration is encouraging local school districts to host vaccine clinics for kids and information on benefits of the shots.
2 min read
President Joe Biden, and first lady Jill Biden walk to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Biden is spending the weekend at his home in Rehoboth Beach, Del. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)