Half of two is less than one when it comes to families

There is a devastating demoralising disease sweeping the world at a drastic rate, and children in our generation have a 42% chance of being infected with it.

This disease will affect almost every aspect of a child's life.

There is no cure, no treatment available, but there is a preventive.

The question is, will you try to stop it?

This disease will give a child a 48% higher possibility of smoking.

One in four children that get the disease will drop out of high school.

Out of the three in four kids who stay in school, 40% of them will not graduate by the age of 20.

If a child is seriously affected, they will fall behind their classmates in math and social skills, and are at immense risk to suffer from anxiety, stress and low self-esteem, which can lead to depression and suicide.

And what is this disease?

In today's world, when a husband and wife are no longer happy with their relationship, there is an easy way out.

Divorce - the legal separation of man and wife, by judgement of a court, therefore totally dissolving the marriage relation.

You are happy, your ex is happy. Simple solution right?Wrong!Has anyone spared a thought for the children?

In 2012 alone, 20,521 marriages were registered to New Zealand residents.

Also in 2012, 8785 divorces were granted.

Of those divorces, just over 86% directly involved a child under the age of 18.

Regrettably, children in our generation are exposed to this ''disease'' through no fault of their own.

Is it fair for a child to be caught in the middle of an argument that isn't of their own making?

The effects of divorce on children and teens are astounding.

Just one of those effects is the strained relationship between the parent and child.

Among children and teens from disrupted families, 65% had a very poor, negative relationship with their father, and 30% of them had a very poor, negative relationship with their mother.

For a child, this can lead to vast negative effects: insecurity, anxiety, stress, depression, the list goes on.

If a child does not receive the love and acceptance they need from their parents, they will search for it elsewhere.

And elsewhere can be a very dangerous, misleading and confusing place.

But the scary thing is that confusion from home then transplants itself into school life.

Teens with divorced parents are 25% more likely to drop out of secondary school than a teenager from a stable household.

But there is more bad news.

Of the teens that do stay in school, a huge 40% will not graduate secondary school by the age of 20.

Dr Brad Wilcox from the University of Virginia found children from stable homes are more likely to have a better childhood, saying: ''Children who are growing up in a two parent family, which gives them access to the love, security, attention and financial resources they need, are more likely to excel in reading and less likely to be held back at school''.

With those statistics and the divorce rate rising by the day, more and more teens are going to end up out of school with no qualifications, no job and worst of all, no-one to fall back on.

Then again, you must have heard the cliche, ''Do what I say, not what I do''.

It's something that we have all grown up hearing, right?

But the thing is, it is a proven fact that children learn by watching others, especially their parents, leaving open the huge possibility of the disease becoming hereditary.

Children who are coming from this type of family situation, grow up believing when things get tough you just give up.

This has been proven by a man named Nicholas Wolfinger.

He found that children from divorced households are twice as likely to go through a divorce themselves.

He believes divorce is an important topic because it has so many consequences for a child's wellbeing.

It has been said that half of two is less than one - a statement that I believe is terribly true.

Divorce is a disease, a disease with far too many awful effects on New Zealand's youth, for it to be ignored.

So let me leave you with my challenge.

If there comes a stage in your life when you feel it is necessary to divorce your partner, please think about who else is going to have to live with the consequences of the decision you make.

Ask yourself, is it really worth it?

You may be our today but our children are the tomorrow.


• By Ashleigh Smith, Year 11, Maniototo Area School

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