The Impact on the overall scholastic development of students, whose families separated
(A long essay presented to the Faculty of Education in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Post Graduate Certificate in Education at the University of Malta (June, 2007)
Without any doubt separation changes the life of all the family members drastically but, being young and not able to understand what it going on, children tend to suffer the most. Separation makes children question a lot. They question their parents' love, their parents' love for them, relationship and life issues in general. I do not want to give the impression that all separations are harmful to the children involved. In fact research shows that some children benefit from separation, especially in cases of domestic violence, drug and alcohol problems (Johnston and Campbell, 1988).
One can also reduce the harm and trauma for the children by refraining from using them as spies, messengers, witnesses in court (if not really needed) and as confidants. One has to understand that it is not easy for the couple to go through a separation but one also has to keep in mind that the children are not to blame for it and are victims of the situation as much, if not more, than the couple itself. This research clearly showed a difference on the impact on scholastic development between consensual separation and more traumatic, in court separations. Scholastic development is but one factor of the children's development so one might generalize the impact to other aspects of their development too.
This was the introduction of the Conclusion of the above mentioned thesis.
As the title of this essay clearly states, the research question is: What is the impact on the overall scholastic development of students whose family went through separation?
I carried out semi structured, in depth interviews with the adults that are involved with the students' scholastic development; interviewing the custodial parent, teacher teaching the child a year or more before the separation was filed for, a teacher teaching the student a year after the separation and the school head, for triangulation and, in order to get a holistic view as much as possible, of the child's changes, if any were present. The information was gathered and reviewed, in order to project the focus on the main issues experienced in adjusting to the changes and instability created by the separation. The results show the changes in the students' behaviour, affective relationships and academic attainment that happened while the parents were separating. The most common finding was that the separation affects the children greatly, causing them to develop defense mechanisms to survive such as episode. Such defence mechanisms are sometimes self destructive as they affect their relationships and academic attainment. My research also found a difference on the affects of the trauma between families who separated consensually and those who went through tumult.
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