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Updated: 1/14/2003 11:29 am
More than half of all marriages in the U-S end in divorce, which is the highest divorce rate in the industrialized world. Research shows that three out of four teen suicides are committed by adolescents from broken homes, that children of divorce are 70 percent more likely to be expelled from, or drop out of, school, and that seven out of ten teens in long-term correctional facilities are products of divorce. As the late pediatrician, Dr. Benjamin Spock, points out, a child's sense of security is strongly tied to having a father as well as a mother and to having them both live in the same house. If, however, there's been adultery, physical abuse, or substance abuse by one of the spouses, divorce may be a necessary solution. Even when a divorce is 'friendly,' teens are likely to experience both immediate and long-term reactions, including fear, insecurity, sadness, anger, guilt, and even depression. There are some ways to help minimize the effects. Settle as many issues as you can outside the courtroom, and don't ask the child to take sides. Don't turn to children for emotional support, and maintain a civil relationship with your ex. When you're with the child, maintain discipline and boundaries, and help the child work through emotions. If you see some of these signs, a child may need professional counseling: acting out behavior toward parents, siblings, teachers, or peers; temper tantrums; stealing; or breaking curfews. If the child is depressed, has fears that are not age-appropriate, or withdraws from things normally enjoyed, or if grades decline, help also may be necessary. For more information, contact a doctor.

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