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Monday, 16 September, 2002, 13:19 GMT 14:19 UK
Fatherless families 'face raft of problems'
Mother and family walk on a beach
One in five children now live in a one-parent family
Children who grow up without a father are more likely to be unemployed, homeless, to contract illness or be imprisoned, a wide-ranging survey has suggested.

Independent think-tank Civitas has analysed 30 years of data on changing trends in family life.

It suggests the decline of the two-parent married couple family had resulted in increased incidence of poverty, ill health, educational failure and anti-social behaviour.

Children of lone parents are more likely to:
Suffer deprivation
Suffer ill health
Be unpopular and in trouble at school
Be excluded from school or leave early
Suffer physical and sexual abuse
Run away from home
Drink, smoke, take drugs
Become young offenders
Have unprotected sex
Become teenage parents
Source: Civitas

Lone mothers are poorer, more depressed and more unhealthy than mothers in two-parent families, according to the think-tank.

Fathers not living with their families have higher death rates, drink more heavily, have more unsafe sex and risk losing contact with their children.

Rebecca O'Neill, author of the survey, entitled Experiments in Living, said: "The weight of evidence indicates that the traditional family based upon a married father and mother is still the best environment for raising children and it forms the soundest basis for the wider society."

Ms O'Neill pulled together the results of dozens of studies, carried out over three decades, to give an over-arching picture.

Most of the studies, she said, had been based on 1,000 families each.

One in five children now live in a one-parent family. One in 14 live with their mother and a man who has no birth or legal tie to the child.

Civitas is now calling on the UK Government to do more to encourage people to live in more traditional family units.

Civitas director David Green said: "We need to see a change in government policy which favours and encourages the most responsible behaviour amongst parents, rather than the opposite, as is currently the case."

See also:

10 Nov 00 | Scotland
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