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THE Herald Sun (March 13) is to be commended for highlighting the suffering of baby Jesse Ray Winning, battered to death at 14 months. Baby Jesse is but one sad statistic in a tragic cohort of battered babies, among which Daniel Valerio was perhaps the "classic" example.

The one common feature of all these miserable cases is that the baby was in a single mother situation and was abused over time by a de facto boyfriend.

Researchers in several countries have concluded that the highest risk factor for the death of a child under four is to be living in a household with an adult male who is not the biological rather of the child.

Yet despite the overwhelming evidence, the single mother lobby and Australian sociologists persist in claiming that children do just as well in single mother situations as with two-parent, married couples.

While Chief Justice Nicholson deplores the plight of children-"Judge's plea on children" (Herald Sun, March 14) -- many fathers' groups complain that his Family Law Court shows a marked bias in giving custody to mothers, including those who have initiated the divorce, even though no fault has been committed by the fathers.

The fairytale myth of the wicked stepmother needs updating with the reality of the irresponsible, de facto boyfriend.

There are good reasons for taking "fault" into account when determining custody of children, and not handing their care over to a parent who unilaterally breaks up a marriage when the spouse has committed no fault.

Babette Francis

National and Overseas Co-ordinator,
Endeavour Forum Inc.





Member Organisation, World Council for Life and Family

NGO in Special Consultative Status with ECOSOC of the UN