FOLLOWING last year’s spike in divorce rates, an activist group and a psychologist warned of a possible increase in gangsterism, bullying, and drug abuse among children.

According to reports, more than 76,000 divorce petitions were filed across the nation between March 2020 and August 2021. In comparison, a total of 50,862 divorces were reported in 2018, although the number increased to 56,975 the following year.

Psychologists who have studied the effects of divorce say that children who witness parental separation may develop unhealthy coping mechanisms like associating with the wrong crowd or involving in drug abuse.

Children’s emotional, physical and mental well-being are negatively impacted by dysfunctional parental connection. It can cause lasting scars on their personalities. They may feel lost or stressed due to their parents’ divorce, which can easily influence them to make poor decisions if not handled.

It has been found that youngsters aged three to six feel lost and confused during a divorce. In addition, adolescents are also susceptible to developing feelings of anger and resentment toward one or both parents. They may start hanging out with similar friends who are also potentially harmful influences.

Children need attention, and if their parents do not have a healthy relationship, they will not know who to confide in or look up to. This can cause them a great deal of stress, and as a result, they may suffer mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression.

A proper support structure is essential for raising children to be mentally healthy and well-behaved. Family, friends and educators play crucial roles in establishing an exemplary support system for children so that they do not become involved in crime or drugs.

Children require positive role models in order to avoid mixing with the wrong people and taking the wrong path in life.

Divorce is likely to occur when spouses lack understanding of one another or are under financial strain or other pressures.

Spouses need to talk it out and communicate with each other to thrash out any problems they face instead of resorting to drastic measures like separation and divorce.

It is important that spouses open up to each other during times of conflict instead of stonewalling. This can help strengthen the marriage and lead to better understanding between the couple. Sharing problems and finding positive solutions will enhance the overall relationship and help keep the family together.

Mohan Dass Thevarajan, Faculty of Business and Communication, Universiti Malaysia Perlis. Comments:

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