Family dissolution and children's social well-being at school: A historic cohort study

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Background: Family dissolution has become more common and one third of the child population in most Western countries now experience family dissolution. Studies show that children from dissolved families have lower levels of social well-being than children from intact families, but only few studies have examined the impact on social well-being specifically in the school setting. We investigated the association between family dissolution and children's social well-being at school, including the possible influence of the child's age at the time of the family dissolution. Methods: We defined a historic cohort study of 219,226 children and adolescents aged 9-16 years and combined demographic registry data of family structure with questionnaire data on social well-being based on the Danish National Well-being Questionnaire completed in 2015. The definition of social well-being was constructed on the children's perception of sense of belonging in the school setting, in the class and the school community, as well as perceptions on safety, loneliness and bullying. We examined low social well-being according to family dissolution and used multiple logistic regression analyses to adjust for parental educational level, ethnicity and siblings and further stratified for gender and age. Results: A total of 5% of the children had a low social well-being at school. Among the 31% who lived in dissolved families, we found more children with a low level of social well-being at school (adjusted OR 1.41, 95% CI 1.36;1.47) than those in intact families; especially among those who at the time of family dissolution were in the preschool age (1.55, 95% CI 1.47;1.64). Conclusion: Children from dissolved families had higher odds for low social well-being at school compared with children from intact families, especially those who experienced family dissolution in the preschool age. The school may be an important setting for identifying and providing help and support in children experiencing family dissolution.

Original languageEnglish
Article number449
JournalB M C Pediatrics
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

    Research areas

  • Divorce, Family dissolution, Family structure, Ordinary public school, Parental separation, Social well-being

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