While I was inspired by Merle Steva’s message on the Dec. 20 Religion page (“Reflections: What is the home that calls us at Christmas?”), I could not but think of the dysfunctional families that lack such love and caring.

I frequently read in the Press Herald accounts of spouse abuse or child abuse. Such incidents occur too often! They belie the family models to which Steva refers. At this time of the year, such distinctions between family models become most marked.

We treasure the close family; we shudder and grieve over the other situations. Thus, I believe that it has been for far too long we have not adequately addressed the underlying causes of such destructive family life.

What sort of role models can we teach in our schools?

What can we do to encourage friends and neighbors to report such problems, since they still appear hesitant to do so?

What can we do to better alert social agencies to be more closely attuned to problems rather than having to deal with them later, with the sad consequences of injury or death within a family?

It is said that politics begins at the local level. The same can be said about family relationships. Think of the kind of society we would have without having to confront the news that someone murdered his child, shot their wife or husband, injured a supposed dear one.

If we are truly concerned about our neighbors on a religious level, here is the other side of the coin from what Merle Steva wrote. It needs our serious consideration at this time of the year, as well as throughout the entire year.

William J. Leffler II

Kennebunkport