Two biological parents provide the safest environment for a child, according to a study released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics. The study is the first to look specifically at biological and non-biological parents, rather than married, cohabitating, or same-sex parents.
The study found that children are more likely to experience potentially traumatic events, like household violence or a parent’s incarceration, when they live with only one or neither of their biological parents.
The survey, which examined data from a national pool of almost 100,000 households with children, looked at nine adverse family experiences: divorce or separation, death, incarceration of a parent or guardian, living with someone who is mentally ill or suicidal, living with someone who had an alcohol or drug problem, witnessing violence in the household, being the victim of violence or witnessing neighborhood violence, suffering racial discrimination, and having a caregiver who often found it hard to make ends meet.
The results found an inverse association between the number of biological parents in the home and a child’s likelihood of experiencing adverse effects. Children without either of their biological parents in the home were 2.7 times more likely to experience at least one adverse event, and 30 times as likely to experience four or more events, than children with both biological parents in the home.
“Children are most likely to thrive, and least likely to face adversity, when they are raised in a married home by their biological parents,” W. Bradford Wilcox of the National Marriage Project told LifeSiteNews. “This new study from the CDC is consistent with the general findings in the research on child well-being.”
Of the children surveyed, 70 percent of those in a home with both biological parents had experienced none of the identified traumatic circumstances, while only 20 percent with one or no biological parent in the home experienced none of the circumstances. The authors of the study say they looked at these nine adverse events because research has shown children are likely to experience long-term effects—including poor adult health, risk of illicit drug abuse, and risk of suicide—from traumatic events experienced at an early age.
Of children in homes without biological parents, those in foster care were the worst off, with almost half of them experiencing four or more adverse events. The study notes, “The cumulative effect of multiple traumas can be serious; research has shown that the more adverse experiences suffered, the higher the risk of serious health conditions or negative health outcomes.”