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Study looks at divorce as trauma that impacts children's health

When thinking about a divorce, parents often consider how it will impact their children. The biggest question revolves around the custody agreement. Will the parents share custody or will one parent be the primary custodial parent? And despite the contentious battles that are in the news, many custody decisions are made with the children’s best interests in mind.

But the impact of a divorce may not be apparent immediately after the separation or even a year after. In fact, even with an amicable divorce, a child may still experience trauma that could impact their health later on down the line. A recent report looks at how certain life traumas, including divorce, impact children in Arizona.

The data looks at a number of different life events, divorce being one of them. It includes statistics about children between the ages of 12 and 17 throughout the state. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente provided the numbers.

Child welfare was the primary focus of the study. Researchers looked at a number of different risk factors including divorce. Some other experiences included:

  • Witnessing neighborhood violence
  • Socioeconomic hardship
  • Living with one parent while the other is in jail

These types of childhood experiences can actually have an adverse impact on a child’s behavioral health. One data analyst noted that it’s important to remember that the study looked all of the issues reported and “put those issues together” to “measure their cumulative impact on children”.

It was found that if a child experienced some type of trauma, it can expose them to other issues that can impact their health, putting them at risk for obesity and poor performance in school. Bullying was also a behavior that researchers were seeing in children who experienced a traumatic life event.

The purpose of the study was really to shed light on some of the health and behavior issues that can come up after an adverse event, such as divorce. And while the results may not be true in every situation, they do show that when going through a divorce, parents really do need to keep their children’s interests in mind.

Source: AZ Central, “Childhood trauma common in Arizona,” Amy B Wang, Mar. 3, 2014.

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