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The Root of Too Much Evil
In April, 8-year-old Victoria Stafford disappeared from her Woodstock, Ontario home. I'm not sure how many of my American readers heard about her, but her picture was plastered everywhere across my home province of Ontario. We were all praying for her to come home safely.

Last week they made an arrest in the case. An 18-year-old neighbour and her 28-year-old boyfriend were taken into custody. Of course, we don't know for sure whether they did it or not, but the more I read details of the case, the sadder I became.

The mother was the focus of a lot of gossip over the month that Victoria was missing with no apparent leads. A single mom, she had left her husband several years earlier, and had in the interim become addicted to Oxycontin, a drug that the 18-year-old suspect was also addicted to.

She also had an off-again, on-again boyfriend. And the father, who is heartbroken obviously, has confessed himself that he was not involved enough in Victoria's life for the last few years.

Then let's turn to the accused. The 18-year-old Terry-Lynne McClintic was the daughter to a single mother who was formerly a stripper. She was actually the biological daughter of another stripper, but was adopted by her mother as a baby. The adopted mom and her husband split up when the accused was only 3, and she hasn't seen her adopted father since.

The 28-year-old, Michael Rafferty, was also the son of a single mother with a live-in boyfriend. So all over the place we have marital breakdown, occasional drug use, cohabitation, alcoholism, and addictions of various sorts.

It is hard to raise a child alone. We were not meant to do it. Not all single parents are drug addicts, or incompetent, or sexually permissive. I know my own mother certainly wasn't. But the fact is that a child, living with a single mother and her live-in boyfriend, is 25 times more likely to be sexually abused than a child living with both biological parents. And a child is far more likely to be the victim of a crime if they grow up in a single parent household. The home is just more chaotic, and there's one less adult to keep an eye on things.

And people are also far more likely to commit crimes if they come from broken homes. There aren't very many on death row who grew up with both biological parents.

This isn't set in stone. My home province of Ontario was rocked a decade and a half ago by the case of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka, a young, good-looking, professional married couple who kidnapped, raped and murdered Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffey. I don't even have to look up any of the names, I remember it so well. Both murderers were from intact families. Kristen and Leslie were also from exemplary families. It made it all so horrible. Evil can come in any package and can hit anywhere.

But just because it can doesn't mean it's equally likely. And crime is more likely to befall those who live in broken homes, and more likely to be committed by those who come from broken homes. Dysfunction stalks dysfunction.

It's not fair, but I think we need to acknowledge it. Marriage matters. It is not just a private affair; it is a public good. It gives stability to children and breeds responsibility and commitment. I'm watching what's happening to extended family where marriages have broken down, and life is much harder for everyone.

Sometimes, of course, when a marriage ends, one partner really isn't at fault. We all know divorces like that, and I don't mean to malign these people. I think when a marriage ends, but you keep the ideals of marriage and family, you can still raise your children well in a stable home, even if it's harder. But when you give up on the idea of loyalty, continuity, responsibility, fidelity, and self-control, you open you and your family up for a potential world of hurt.

I'm sure I'll get blasted in the comments for my insensitive view on this whole thing. I certainly don't mean to blame Victoria's mother or father; the blame lies entirely with the two who did this despicable deed. But it's also important for us as a society to look at the root causes of dysfunction and talk openly about them. Talking as if there's no difference between single parenthood and marriage is just not true; it's a blatant lie. People may want to believe it's true, because they don't want to believe there is a right and a wrong, but that doesn't make it so. Children need both parents to be committed to each other. If we all did that, I think we'd find far fewer cases of abuse, violence, and general pathology.

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At 10:21 AM , Blogger Catherine R. said…

Thanks for continuing to be outspoken on this, Sheila, and not being bullied by the thought-police/ politically correct police.

I grew up with a single mom who fit that bill of someone who just gave up. Drugs, weird boyfriends, the whole thing. It is only by the powerful grace of our Savior that I lead a decent upstanding life now. I started out adulthood as a full blown drug addict with a long line of sexual partners, sprinkled with petty criminal activity.

A broken family is NOT just another option that's no different. It's something to be avoided.


At 1:16 PM , Anonymous Dr.Bruce said…

Very glad to discover your blog and this wonderful post.

Thanks for helping to discuss this problem without bashing single mothers. Deadbeat dads are at fault as well.

The real issue is maintaining the nuclear family and marriage as values in our society.


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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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