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The effects of divorce on children might be likened to lighting striking a structure that is already compromised The results can range anywhere to setting the entire building ablaze to merely putting a few cracks in the foundation That more and more families are falling into crisis is evident by the demands placed on help lines and services which aid families A Toronto-based Kids Help line reported that it receives over 4000 calls daily from stressed parents filled with anger resentment and despair Verburg 1997 The Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons reported a 70 increase in the use of Ritalin a drug used to treat hyperactivity and inattentiveness in children between 1991 and 1994 Verburg 1997 Mental health services have also experienced a dramatic rise in demand over recent years Dr Michael Ferri a psychiatrist practicing in Grande Centre Alberta Canada places much of the blame on the increasing divorce rate We need to guard against over-treatment for children victimized by divorce Ferri 1998 These children are dealing with the separation anxiety which can lead to them thinking theyve created the problem They dont need psychotherapy they need parents who understand their pain and have the tools to help them through it Sending Johnny off to get fixed could even be internalized as punishment Verburg 1997 Dr Ferri sees incompetent parenting as a contributing cause Parents who are feeling the guilt of divorce try to overcompensate with their children In my experience children with behavior problems such as hyperactivity and aggression seem to be treated and their parents have been told to treat them with only positive reinforcement and praise Ferri 1996 Ferri emphasizes that children require structure and limitations He states Kids need firm limits on their behaviorwith some expectations it doesnt help to sedate them with drugs or give them hours of counseling 1996 Whatever the effects of divorce however the wide ranging changes that accompany it are likely to have
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