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Family breakdown Essay

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There are many different issues associated with the breakdown of a family, and various factors that contribute to the issues the arise from this. The cause of a breakdown could vary from mutual separation, financial stress, and poverty to domestic violence, Abuse, imprisonment or even death (Utting, 1995). Families vary culturally, financially and geographically. Research into how such issues effect the wellbeing of a child suggests that, depending on a families make up, depends on how the issues associated with family breakdown effects them.

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Some of the key issues identified from a family breaking down are; the cost it has on society, a child’s wellbeing, mental health issues in children continuing into adulthood, severe anti-social behaviours, emotional and psychological stress, lack of educational achievement and lack of social competence (Jeynes, 2002). Due to there being a vast array of issues, this artefact will review the issues of mental health, anti- social behaviours, lack of educational achievement, all with regards to children and the cost of family breakdown to society.

Demographic and social changes over the last three decades have resulted in a more diverse, complex family situation. There are many more couples choosing to cohabit and become parents nowadays instead of marrying. Due to there being a higher proportion of parental separation within this group, there is a higher probability of a child experiencing being part of a step family or having a lone parent then was previously the case (Wallerstein,Lewis & Blakeslee, 2002).

Over recent years there has been growing interest with regards to the impact this experience has on children. This is a key issue for policymakers since although the government wants to support stable relationships between parents, where they break down there is a responsibility to provide support to ensure positive outcomes for children (Miles & Stephenson, 2000).

Results Gathered from a public opinion poll commissioned by the Children’s Society as part of their ongoing Good Childhood inquiry revealed in 2008 that mental health issues in children were increasing at an alarming rate. The report identified that 10 per cent of boys aged 11 to 15 and 13 per cent of girls had mental health issues at that time. this amounted to 300,000 young sufferers in total (Benson, 2010).

It is estimated by professionals that more than a million children between five and 16 have a clinically recognisable mental health disorder. when questioned as to what pressures were causing them distress not only did the children identify family breakdown as a cause, so did 29 per cent of adults. Also identified as being problematic were poor family relationships, emotional distress and poor parenting, either by a lack of affection or the failure to show authority and set boundaries (UK failing to meet).

Children who are exposed to conflict between their parents prior to or following separation, or who feel themselves to blame for it, are particularly at risk of negative outcomes ( Harne, 2011). There is some evidence that age and gender are variables altering the impact of conflict on child outcomes, and that boys and adolescents are generally most affected (Buchanan, Hunt, Bretherton, Bream, 2001).

Children as a result of such experiences are more susceptible to having a higher likelihood of anxiety, behaviour problems or withdrawal. It is suggested that youth of today are forced into a situation of having to grow up too quickly due to family dynamics and demands of society. Jeynes 2002 suggests that as a result of these factors, child and youth anti social behaviours and crime rates have dramatically risen According to the Youth Justice Board it costs the country on average 455 million pounds a year with regards to young offenders (Minister backs greater).

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers said chaotic home lives and poverty made children unable to learn. Due to this, some delegates of the association want a Royal Commission to investigate childhood unhappiness. This came about following ministers plans to tackle the poor behaviour of some children from difficult backgrounds. A Wiltshire teacher, Phil Whalley, said it was clear from research in Europe and the US that family stability, or the lack of it, was an important factor as to wether a child would have a positive educational outcome.

As there is already significant levels of social dysfunction and family breakdown within Britain the problem needs to be addressed on a scale that is not only applicable to the ideal nuclear family, but also the many different dynamics of Britain’s families or the situation will progressively get worse. Those who underachieved in childhood were more likely to have dysfunctional lives and be unable to support their own children.

“In short, as a society we are in danger of creating an expanding, perpetuating and toxic circle,” (Eason, 2008). It is also felt that should this be allowed to continue society could reach that crossover point when no matter how much time, money or effort is invested in to education and no matter how hard schools and teachers try, they will not be able to overcome the negative impact of broken and dysfunctional families.

Current issues regarding family breakdown are acknowledge as being costly to society, government recognise the need to invest in educating families to maintain a happy healthy environment for children to grow up in and learn from (Mooney, Oliver & Smith,2009). This not only reduce the cost to society but provides the upcoming generations with the ability to succeed with regards to raising a family that benefits society.

However there appear to be worrying levels of social dysfunction and family breakdown often as a result of poverty a family will dissolve, as a result a child’s wellbeing is affected by many variables, therefore creating further poverty (forgotten Families,2012). it is acknowledged that mental health issues alone cost society an estimated 105 billion pounds. considering mental health is seen as one of the biggest issues to affect adults and children as a result of a family breakdown.

However, Governments are always in danger of presuming that there is a standard model of family life for which they can legislate, by making the assumption that most families do in fact operate in particular ways. In reality it is very difficult to identify a standard model, by what people do, or by what they should do. The aim of policies should be to facilitate flexibility in family life, rather than force it to be of a particular form. This then enables people to have maximum opportunity to work out their own relationships as they wish, to suit the circumstances of their own lives. It is not the role of governments to presume that certain outcomes would be more desirable than others (Neale, 2000).

With regards to all of the issues related to family breakdown, including educational achievement, behaviour, mental health, self concept, social competence and long-term health, there are significant differences between children who experience parental separation compared with children from intact families (Charles, Davies & Harris, 2008). However, although the difference between the two groups is generally statistically significant, the effect sizes are however small, considering the fact that within both groups, children vary widely in their experiences.

Children from intact families can experience circumstances that are known to increase the risk of poor outcomes such as poverty, parental conflict, violence and poor parenting, whilst children whose parents separate may not experience these or can cope well, resulting in many children experiencing family breakdown, functioning as well as, or even better than, children from intact families (Ganong & Coleman, 1994).

While changing family dynamics place children at an increased risk of negative outcomes, the evidence shows that few children and adolescents experience long lasting problems, and some children can actually benefit when it brings to an end a ‘harmful’ family situation, for example where there are high levels of parental conflict, including violence (Featherstone, 2004). The significant differences within and across family types need to be considered before implying that one rule suits all family settings.

Stepfamilies, for example, where both parent and stepparent have brought children into the new family has been associated with more adjustment problems than in a stepfamily where all the children are related to the mother. in terms of outcomes, the differences between children within family types can be greater than across family types. This suggests that family functioning, and not family type, is of more significance (Salmon & Shackleford, 2007).

In summary family breakdown is not a easy process, it involves a number of risk and protective factors that interact in complicated way both before and after separation. Although children are at increased risk of harmful outcomes following family breakdown, sometimes with negative outcomes continuing into adulthood, the difference between children from intact and non-intact families is small and the majority of children will not be affected in the long-term.

Children from both intact and non-intact families vary considerably when it comes to their in experiences. The way in which a family functions appears to have a greater impact on overall outcomes for children than the type of family does, with outcomes for many children experiencing family breakdown as good as, or even better than children from intact families. Evidence indicates that there is no direct link between family breakdown and negative child outcomes. Instead, a number of factors such as parental conflict, the quality of parenting and of parent-child relationships, mental health issues and financial hardship, play a key role in either increasing or limiting the risk of adverse outcomes following family breakdown.

Conflict and stress can affect the ability of parents, whether together, separated or divorced, to parent effectively, which in turn impacts on children’s well-being. Poverty and the stress it brings is both a contributor to family breakdown and frequently a consequence of it. Children from poorer backgrounds, whether from intact or non-intact families, generally do less well on a number of measures compared with children from more advantaged backgrounds.

reference list

UK failing to meet Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing needs. (2008). Retrieved from The Childrens Society website: http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/news-views/press-release/uk-failing-meet-childrens-mental-health-and-well-being-needs

Benson, H. (2010). Family Breakdown in the UK: Its not about Divorce. Retrieved from The Centre for Social Justice website: http:www.centreforsocialjustice.org.uk/UserStorage/pdf/Pdf%20reports/CSJ_Forgotten-Families-Oct12_-FINAL.pdf

Buchanan, A., Hunt, J., Bretherton, H., & Bream, V. (2001). Families in conflict: Perspectives of children and parents on the family court welfare service. Bristol: The Policy Press.

Charles, N., Davies, C., & Harris, C. (2008). Families in transition: social change, family formation and kin relationships. Bristol: The Policy Press.

Eason, G. (2008). Toxic Cycle of Family breakdown. Retrieved from the BBC
News website: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7303003.stm

Featherstone, B. (2004). Family Life and Family Support. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Forgotten Families? The Vanishing Agenda http:www.centreforsocialjustice.org.uk/UserStorage/pdf/Pdf%20reports/CSJ_Forgotten-Families-Oct12_-FINAL.pdf

Ganong, L., & Coleman, M. (1994). Remarried Family Relationships. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Harne, L. (2011). Violent Fathering and the risk to Children. Bristol: The Policy Press.

Jeynes, W. (2002). Divorce, Family Structure, and the Academic Success of Children. New York:Haworth Press Inc.

miles, G., & Stephenson, P. (2000). Children and Family Breakdown. Retrieved from the Tearfund website: http://tilz.tearfund.org/webdocs/Tilz/Topics/FamilyENG_full%20doc.pdf

Minister backs greater use of restorative justice in youth system. (2012). Retrieved from the Government website: http://www.justice.gov.uk/news/press-releases/yjb/yjb-pressrelease260112

Mooney, A., Oliver, C., & Smith, M. (2009). Impacts of Family Breakdown on Children’s Well-Being. (department for children Schools and families research report DCSF-RR113). Retrieved from the website: http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/11165/1/DCSF-RR113.pdf:

Neale, B. (2000). Theorising family, Kinship and Social Change. Retrieved from the Leeds University website: http://www.leeds.ac.uk/cava/papers/wsp6.pdf

Salmon, C., & Shackleford, T. (2007). Family Relationships:An Evolutionary Perspective. New York: Oxford University Press.

Utting, D. (1995). Family and Parenthood: Supporting families, preventing breakdown. York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Wallerstein, J., Lewis, J., & Blakeslee, S. (2002). The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce. London: Fusion Press.

Cite this Family breakdown Essay

Family breakdown Essay. (2016, Jun 08). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/family-breakdown/

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