A report has been released by researchers at the Australian National University that suggests that the children of divorced parents are more likely to develop long-term mental and social disadvantages.

These disadvantages include a greater likelihood to smoke, have sex before the age of 16, become teenage parents, not finish high school, and experience mental health issues such as depression and suicidal thoughts.

Most interesting was the finding that it was the parental separation, rather than more fundamental socioeconomic factors such as poverty or family conflict that correlated with the negative behavioural trends in children.

The report co-author Bryan Rodgers made it clear that the findings were more than just an observation of immutable social forces, but rather evidence of the failure of policy in this area. He urges that “more needs to be done, particularly when it comes to supporting parents at the time of divorce and afterwards” to avoid the toll of divorce being borne by children.

Though the ANU report focuses on the social trends of divorced families, it cannot escape the political context of the exploding divorce rates that began in 1975 with the no-fault divorce legislation.

A media article on the report can be found by clicking here.