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Father’s role critical in child’s development

Are you a man of courage? Of course, most men would answer “yes” without any hesitation. On Sept. 30, the movie “Courageous” will premier in movie theaters across the United States. I am very excited about this movie, more so than any other, due to its content and message.

Alex and Stephen Kendrick of Sherwood Pictures met with me in the fall of 2009 and shared their desire to make a movie that would encourage and challenge men to step up and be the father of their home. They also wanted approval to use the Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office as the backdrop for the movie. Upon hearing this, I became emotional and excited because of my involvement over the years working with young people, especially boys who did not have a committed father in their lives.

During the past 20 years, I have had many opportunities as a coach, Sunday school teacher or deputy sheriff to interact and work closely with boys. More than a dozen times, my wife and I have opened our home to kids who were struggling with problems. Time and time again, I saw that an absent father caused a void in the life of the child. That void often creates the exact vulnerability that gang members use to target recruits.

Study after study continues to reveal the importance of having both parents actively involved in raising their children. I know and understand the importance of having an involved and committed father because of my own father, Ralph Sproul, and the impact that he had in my life. My wife’s father, David Bullington, played a very significant role in her life as well.

Now, as sheriff, I need look no further than my own jail to find hundreds of examples of lives that went wrong due, in part, to the lack of an active father. I commend the Kendricks and Sherwood Pictures for addressing this important issue — and I have some concerns.

Many kids in fatherless homes, or homes where the father is not an active participant in the life of the child, may feel a greater sense of loss or hopelessness after watching this movie. They have probably accepted and learned to deal with their current circumstance, but watching this movie may underscore the fact that their father figure is absent. They may feel that, while the movie brings a message of hope, that message is not for them. I hope that men who see a child in a fatherless situation will step in to fill that role in a positive way.

Children should also be careful about the men who try to be involved in their lives. If the involvement encourages the child to grow, be productive, do well in school and think positively about their future, then the involvement is a good thing. If the involvement encourages the child to have anything to do with crime, drugs or sex, the child should avoid that person.

The Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office is proud to serve the youth of our community. They are the future and we are working to make that future better.

Sheriff Kevin Sproul is a longtime resident of Dougherty County. He is a graduate of Albany High School, Darton College and LaGrange College of Albany. Sheriff Sproul has been employed with the Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office for 28 years and can be reached at (229) 430-6508.