Letter: Point of crisis for the family

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Sir: I fear that your leading article ("Don't panic, `family life' is quietly thriving", 7 August) is simply whistling to keep our spirits up.

Of course there are some splendid stepfathers. And of course some lone mothers do a great job. But the question is whether social stability can survive the break-up of 40 per cent of marriages plus the uncounted number of break-ups of families with unmarried parents.

Most of the teenagers sleeping rough have left home because of abuse of one kind or another by a stepfather. The rise in teenage prostitutes has the same cause. A great number of teenagers are not only unwanted by any employer, but unloved by any family. They roam the big city estates with nothing to do and all day to do it, loose cannons of our society.

Forty per cent may not be the critical point. As you point out, we still get by. But, since the downgrading of family obligations is an unprecedented social experiment, no one knows when the critical point will come. All religions and all societies have treated the family as the basic social cement which held them together through war, revolution and every other kind of social instability.

We should do well to reckon that we are near the point of no return and revise some of the legislation of the past 30 years before it is too late.

Sir FRED CATHERWOOD

President, The Evangelical Alliance

London SE11

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