Family Structure Matters to Behavior in School
Special Report - October 6, 2008
Adolescents who live in an intact married family are less likely to be suspended or expelled from school than adolescents from non-intact families, according to a recent report from the Mapping America Project of the Family Research Council (FRC). The findings are based on data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Waves 1 and 2), a large national survey of 16,000 students in grade seven through 12. Pat Fagan, director of FRC’s Center for Family and Religion, compared adolescents in the survey from intact-married families to adolescents in non-intact families (single, never married, divorced, stepparent, cohabiting). According to the findings: only 20 percent of adolescents who live with their married biological parents have ever been suspended or expelled from school, compared to 50 percent of adolescents living with a single, never married parent; 34.3 percent of students who live with two biological cohabiting parents; 35.9 percent of adolescents who live with a stepparent; 37 percent of adolescents who live with divorced parents; and 40.8 percent of adolescents who live with one parent who is cohabiting with a partner. The FRC report notes that other previous studies have reached similar conclusions regarding family structure and adolescent behavior at school, including one study by John Hoffman of Brigham Young University that found that adolescents living with both biological parents were less likely to engage in “problem behaviors” at school (such as fighting or being arrested) than adolescents from “any other family structure.”
“This study is the latest confirmation of a simple truthchildren do best when raised in intact married families,” said Matt Lytle, director of research for the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “We hear a lot today about what can be done to help students stay in school and make it to graduation without dropping out or being expelled. If we want our children to succeed in school, we need to do all we can to ensure that they grow up in healthy families with their married mother and father.”
Copyright © 2008. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.