Editorial: Hope lies in strong father figures

By Dylan Thorne

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Reuben Major should count himself lucky not to be spending more time behind bars.

On Saturday, the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend reported that Major was jailed for one year, eight months for repeatedly beating five children in his home during a reign of terror that lasted two years.

While fathers across the country enjoyed Father's Day with their children this weekend, Major was locked up and beginning a jail sentence for carrying out violent acts against those he should have protected from harm.

The justice system, in my view, showed more compassion to Major than he ever did to the children whose lives he made a misery.

The brutal beatings he dished out to the children involved hair-pulling, kicks with steel-capped boots and whacks with a plastic water pipe.

Once, when drunk, the 37-year-old held one boy's head under water in a swimming pool until the child thought he would drown.

The children lived in a state of fear with the eldest victim, when interviewed, describing a home environment involving violence, drug use, drunkenness and verbal abuse.

The boy gave a heart-wrenching description of his home life saying these "bad things" had happened most of his life and there were "no good things" in their house, and sometimes there was no food for them to eat.

Major's lawyer said his client had genuine empathy and concern for the children, and there was a growing maturity about his role as a father and parent, and he now had a real insight into what he needed to do to become a good father.

I remain unconvinced.

This man knew what he was doing was wrong but he did it anyway.

He knew his victims were helpless and had no way of escaping his fury.

These children were vulnerable, and the person they should have looked up to as a father figure became a source of fear in their lives.

My only hope is that the children find male role models who will show them that violence is not okay, that the family home is meant to be a sanctuary full of "good things", and that fathers should love and protect their children.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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