CDC: Children Experience Less Trauma When Raised By Heterosexual Parents

( [email protected] ) May 12, 2014 12:28 PM EDT

Children who are raised by both biological Mom and Dad are more likely to have a safe, happy childhood, according to a report released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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According to the study, the worst outcomes for experiencing traumatic events comes from children in foster care, with no biological parental involvement.  After that, those raised by one biological parent, and those raised by relatives other than parents come in ranking behind kids raised by both parents.

The study considered nine adverse experiences to be traumatic, and based the level of "adverse family experiences" on self-reports of going through these experiences. They considered whether the family had a divorce or separation of parents or guardians, a death of a parent or guardian, an incarceration of a parent or guardian, whether the children lived with someone who was mentally ill, suicidal or severely depressed, whether they lived with someone who had an alcohol or drug problem, if they had witnessed violence in the household, or if they were the victim of violence or witnessed violence in the neighborhood, or if they suffered racial discrimination, and economic trauma based on whether the caregiver had often found it hard to get by on the family's income.

What they found was very telling.  

Seventy percent of children raised by their biological mother and father had no adverse family experiences compared to only 21.7 percent of those raised by one biological parent and 18.7 percent of those raised by neither of their biological parents.The study found that as the involvement of biological parents decreased, the likelihood of a child experiencing multiple traumatic events increased.  

They found that almost two-thirds of children in non parental care had "lived with someone who had an alcohol or drug problem."  They also determined, based on the data, that nearly half of children entering foster care have experienced severe parental neglect, and nearly 30 percent have parents who have an alcohol or drug issue.    

The data indicates that nearly half of the children in foster care will have at least four traumatic experiences in their childhood.  As grandparents or other family members are involved, those numbers decrease.   The report estimates that 3.1 percent of all children, or 2.25 million kids, are raised by neither of their biological parents. Of those, 15 percent are in foster care, 38 percent live with at least one grandparent and other relatives, while 25 percent live with one or both grandparents .

95,677 phone interviews were conducted for the survey, nationally. The data is derived from the 2011-2012 National Survey of Children's Health.