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Each year, over 1 million American children suffer the divorce of their parents (see Chart 1).
Moreover, half of all children born to married parents this year will experience the divorce of their parents before they reach their 18th birthday.
As social scientists track successive generations of American children whose parents have ended their marriages, the data are leading even some of the once-staunchest supporters of divorce to conclude that divorce is hurting American society and devastating the lives of children.
Its effects are obvious in family life, educational attainment, job stability, income potential, physical and emotional health, drug use, and crime.
In 1935, there were 16 divorces for each 100 marriages.
(See Chart 3.) Chart 4 shows that family structure varies considerably by ethnic group.
Three-fourths of Asian-American teenagers live in an intact-married-couple family with both biological parents. In “no-fault” divorce, either partner can end the marriage simply by petitioning for the divorce.
If the effects are indeed demonstrable, grave, and long-lasting, then something must be done to protect children and the nation from these consequences.
Reversing the effects of divorce will entail nothing less than a cultural shift in attitude, if not a cultural revolution, because society still embraces divorce in its laws and popular culture, sending out myriad messages that “It’s okay.” It is not.