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Divorce Can Hurt Kids' Math Scores, Friendships
Date:6/2/2011

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, June 2 (HealthDay News) -- Young children of divorce are not only more likely to suffer from anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem and sadness, they experience long-lasting setbacks in interpersonal skills and math test scores, new research suggests.

Children do not fall behind their peers in these areas during the potentially disruptive period before their parents divorce, the study revealed. Instead, it's after the split that kids seem to have the most trouble coping.

"Somewhat surprisingly, children of divorce do not experience detrimental setbacks in the pre-divorce period," noted study author Hyun Sik Kim, a doctoral candidate in the department of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "From the divorce stage onward, however, children of divorce lag behind in math test scores and interpersonal social skills."

"Children of divorce also show enhanced risk of internalizing problem behaviors characterized by anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem and sadness," Kim said.

While the negative impacts do not continue to worsen several years after the divorce, "there is no sign that children of divorce catch up with their counterparts, either," he added.

The study is published in the June issue of the American Sociological Review.

In the study, Kim discussed how the fallout from divorce might harm childhood development.

Children may be stressed by an ongoing parental blame game or child custody conflicts. This stress could be compounded by the loss of stability when a child is shuttled between separate households or has to move to another region altogether, thus losing contact with his or her original network of friends.

In fact, Kim observed a dramatic change in family locations, suggesting that children of divorce were more likely to change schools.

Parents' divorce-related depression might also play a role, as could eco
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