In this publication, Professor Parkinson, a family law expert prepared a submission to the Australian government to provide a ‘major new initiative to help strengthen relationships between couples and to support parent-child relationships’. As part of this submission, he examined the evidence for how Australian children are REALLY faring and what must be done to improve things.
Some Key findings regarding Children
1. Family stability matters to children’s well being. ‘While it would be simplistic to posit just one or two explanations, if there is one major demographic change in western societies that can be linked to a large range of adverse consequences for many children and young people, it is the growth in the numbers of children who experience life in a family other than living with their two biological parents, at some point before the age of 15. Family conflict and parental separation have a range of adverse impacts on children and young people.
2. Children whose parents live apart are at greater risk. ‘Children whose parents live apart are exposed to a greater number of risks and difficulties than children in intact families. They are significantly more likely to be subject to reports of abuse and neglect than intact families.
3. New partners pose a particular risk. ‘ (one) of the most significant reasons for this are the presence of new partners who are not biologically related to the children…Girls in particular are at much greater risk of sexual abuse from the mother’s new partner than from their own father’
4. The number of kids who do not reach the age of 15 in an intact family with both of their biological parents has almost doubled within a generation. This is largely the consequence of children born into defacto relationships that subsequently break down. ‘Cohabiting relationships are typically quite short-term, if they do not result in marriage. They break down at a very much faster rate than do marriages..Even couples with children who live in de facto relationships have much higher rates of breakdown than married couples.
The nuclear family in Australia is in a state of decline and the main casualties of this process are those least able to care for themselves, the children. This trend shows no sign of reversing and Prof Parkinson notes that ‘As more and more children grow up in fragile families, it ought to be expected that more and more children will experience adverse outcomes’
CLICK HERE to view full article