30% of all births in 2006 were from unmarried couples, according to figures issued by the Standing Committee on Social Affairs. Furthermore, 99.8% of all University students see nothing wrong with cohabitation and 42% of these students consider cohabitation as a stepping stone to marriage; 21% of all youths meet with other people they would have chatted to on the internet; and 54% of all mothers are going back to work only 6 months after having given birth.
In view of the above facts, together with other changing modern trends, this Committee has teamed up with Dr Angela Abela, a clinical psychologist lecturing at the University of Malta, to find ways and means of further improving the relationships between adolescents, couples, parents and children.
The Committee discussed the following themes:
* Preventive education, even possibly to adolescents themselves, about the importance of strong and healthy relationships
* The balance between work and family improves so that family relationships get stronger. To this effect, more family friendly measures should be introduced, including increasing maternity/paternity leave.
* Ongoing education to promote the sharing of family responsibilities. It has been scientifically proved that this would help newly-married couples to decide to have more children. This is especially important since Malta has the second lowest birthrate in Europe!
* Further education in promoting sexual health as part of a national strategy. Parents should be given more training as to how to deal with dangers their children could come across, such as online chatting, binge drinking, child abuse and sexual orientation.
The members of this committee and Dr Abela stressed the fact that more responsibility is needed in society at large, in the sense that everyone should feel responsible for the welfare and upbringing of children, and not just their parents.
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