(Ialongo, Rogosch, et al., 2006). Other program models have demonstrated success to improve maltreated children’s relationships with foster parents (Fisher, Gunnar, et al., 2000) and with well-functioning peers (Fantuzzo, Sutton-Smith, et al., 1996).


Family Disruption. Family disruption can occur for many reasons, including separation or divorce, the death of a parent, and incarceration of a parent. The committee focused on parental divorce and bereavement because they have been the subject both of considerable research and of preventive trials.

The rate of divorce in the United States increased from the 1950s through the 1970s and then stabilized or decreased somewhat over the following decades (Bramlett and Mosher, 2002; U.S. Census Bureau, 2005). However, the official divorce rate underestimates the rate of marital disruption, which may occur as separations that do not become divorces or as disruptions of households with unmarried parents (Bramlett and Mosher, 2002). It is estimated that 34 percent of children in the United States will experience parental divorce before reaching age 16 (Bumpass and Lu, 2000). Children can experience a wide range of other stressors following divorce, such as loss of time with one or more parents, continuing interparental conflict, and parental depression (Amato, 2000). Evidence suggests that effective child coping or interpretation of these stressors, quality of parenting received from both parents, and level of interparental conflict is related to postdivorce adjustment (e.g., Kelly and Emery, 2003; Sandler, Tein, et al., 2000).

Death of a parent (i.e., parental bereavement) occurs to 3.5 percent of U.S. children before age 18 (U.S. Social Security Administration, 2000). The effect of parental death on surviving children rises to national concern particularly when rates increase due to such national disasters as the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, war, and such epidemics as HIV.

Following parental divorce, children are at increased risk for multiple mental, emotional, and behavioral problems, including physical health problems, elevated levels of alcohol and drug use, premarital childbearing, receiving mental health services, and dropping out of school (Troxel and Matthews, 2004; Furstenberg and Teitler, 1994; Hoffmann and Johnson, 1998; Goldscheider and Goldscheider, 1993; Hetherington, 1999). Meta-analyses of studies conducted through the 1990s have shown that problems have not decreased (Amato and Keith, 1991a; Amato, 2001). McLanahan’s (1999) analysis of 10 national probability samples revealed school dropout rates of 31 percent and teen birth rates of 33 percent for adolescents in divorced families versus 13 and 11 percent, respectively, for adolescents in nondivorced families. Adults who were exposed to parental divorce as children have been found to be more likely to divorce and to have an increased



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement