Children who have witnessed their parents go through a divorce feel that they are performing worse at school as a result - and the devastating impact of family breakdown can lead young people to experiment with drink or drugs, according to new research.
Around one in five young people whose parents had divorced said their exam results suffered, with two thirds saying their GCSE results were affected and 44 per cent saying they consequently struggled with their A Levels.
Divorce was also found to lead to damaging behaviour, with around 14 per cent saying they had started to drink alcohol and 13 per cent admitting to experimenting with drugs. Meanwhile, 28 per cent said they changed their eating habits in the wake of a split.
The survey of 4,031 UK adults and 500 young people aged between 14 and 22 with experience of parental separation or divorce was commissioned by family lawyers' association Resolution to mark the start of Family Dispute Resolution Week
Chairman Jo Edwards said 100,000 children a year see their parents divorce.
“These new findings show the wide-ranging impact of divorce and separation on young people,” she said.
“It underlines just how important it is that parents going through a split manage their separation in a way that minimises the stress and impact on the entire family, especially children, otherwise their exam results could suffer. Divorce and separation is always traumatic, but there is a better way to deal with it.”
Additionally, more than one in four (27 per cent) young people said that their parents had tried to involve them in the break-up, while 32 per cent said their parents had attempted to turn them against the other. Almost a fifth said they had completely lost contact with one or more grandparents as a result.
Stacey Hart, a counsellor at A Kidspace, which supports children through family breakdown, told The Independent: "Children of divorced parents can lose all sense of security if they do not receive early intervention.
"They try to hide their pain and suffering from their parents, who are dealing with their own grief and anger."
Hart added: "As a result, in their early teenage years they can turn to destructive behaviour to block out the pain, which can have a major effect on their future."
Resolution pointed to a variety of ways to solve divorce disputes, including mediation or arbitration, which, aided by solicitors, could be “quick and cost effective”.
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