Volume 95, Issue 82

Friday, March 8, 2002
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Domestic abuse hits a new low

Recombobulator.. Jeopardy

Domestic abuse hits a new low

Joel Brown
News Editor

The story of Randal Dooley is beyond tear-jerking. It's one of those cases that keeps you tossing and turning in bed at night, wondering why the world has to be the way it is.

As a Toronto court has heard over the last few weeks, prosecutors claim the seven-year-old Dooley was murdered by his father and stepmother as the result of an accumulation of unforgiving beatings.

He died on Sept. 25, 1998 as the direct result of a brain injury. His autopsy revealed numerous scars from head to toe, an elbow fractured in several places, 14 broken ribs, a lacerated liver and damage to four regions of his brain.

Randal's father Edward and stepmother Marcia have pleaded not guilty to the murder of their son. They claim Randal purposely suffocated himself and his death was caused by a fall from his bunk bed.

However, Edward has admitted beatings were a common occurrence from the time Randal was growing up in Jamaica with his aunt, to the final days of Randal's short life.

"When they were in Jamaica they got whipped from my sister 'cause in Jamaica... you're afforded the luxury of paddling or whipping your children," Edward Dooley explained to police in an interview shortly after Randal was found dead.

"I feel bad but I know to myself that sometimes the way I was grown, I know that sometimes licks is the only thing that can straighten you out sometimes," he added.

Being Jamaican myself, I can understand how Edward Dooley has come into this way of thinking. For many in Jamaican culture, disciplining your child by way of physical punishment is a right many parents refuse to give up – many parents believe extremely bad behaviour deserves extreme consequences.

Anecdotes of horrible beatings are often spewed and laughed about at family gatherings. One of my cousins may recall the time he was hit by my mother on a crowded train and in front of friends, while another cousin talks about how a comb was used in place of a belt to punish a misdeed.

While this may sound horrible to some, neither me, my siblings or cousins have turned into the horrible, deprived adults that can often result from abuse.

In fact, my elders believe much of the success my generation has had in life can be directly attributed to the harsh lessons we were taught when we went wayward. While many of my generation say they wouldn't have the heart to put their child through the same harsh experiences, they never rule out 'well-placed' spankings for their kids.

Many, not only Jamaicans, believe a touch of corporal punishment is necessary in child rearing. But as for the case of Randal Dooley, this was not punishment.

This was a case of torture.

Torture that may have ended the life of a seven-year-old child. Meaningful swats turned into a flurry of abuse.

If ever there was a cause to stop hitting children, this is it. There's got to be better ways to teach your child a lesson than making their life a living hell.

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Copyright The Gazette 2002