Page images
PDF
EPUB

such membership. These character-building activities have developed a multitude of good children in spite of poor parents. But when the contact is not voluntarily made, someone should step in and require every child to have an equivalent advantage under like programs after school hours. This is necessary education toward parent hood. Every child should have the opportunity of enjoying social and cultural training and advantages as an essential of his education. Children lack medical, dental care

Some children have no medical attention from birth until some serious accident or disease strikes them down.

Others do have a medical examination, and learn of the need of medical or operational care; yet nothing is done because of their parents' neglect or ignorance. Even though the State furnishes hospitalization and medical care on a free basis ; lethargic parents often omit periodic check-ups and ignore available corrective care. A child I know waited needlessly for 2 years for an operation after medical diagnosis and direction had been given that his foot needed to be amputated.

Many children have little or no dental care most of their lives. The Children's Fund of Michigan has administered to thousands of children, but there are many more they were unable to serve. I recently saw a 16-year-old boy who had lost many of his teeth through needless decay and lack of care. He had never had denal care. No moral and spiritual training

Thousands of children are growing up without any semblance of religious training or helpful philosophy of life. They are not even "sent" to church or Sunday school, to say nothing of being accompanied by parents. These children are being cheated by ignorant, indolent parents.

The point is this: there is a great appealing need of mandatory assistance for these underprivileged children which should be afforded them in spite of the neglect of their parents. America's greatest future asset is its children. Shall we passively stand by and observe their individual misfortune and the collective resultant waste? How may we avoid the horrible consequences of delinquency, crime, and misery springing from poor parenthood ?

Today the education and health of every single child in America, including those in the less fortunate states, is the responsibility of all of us. We recognize this truth vividly, not only in a democratic valuation of the worth of each individual, but also from our cold observation that education probably won the war for the United States, and contributes largely to our common welfare.

We can't afford to neglect the medical and dental care, and social and philosophical training of our youth. These things are essential to good future parenthood.

HOW OUR SCHOOLS MAY PREVENT DELINQUENCY We have 18,478 persons in our Michigan State hospitals who are mentally ill. In my judgment, hundreds of these people, possibly thousands, are there because of our failure to care for their emotional, moral, and mental health during childhood. We have 8,223 criminals in the Michigan State prisons. They are former juvenile delinquents. If a child never learns to live morally he will become another inmate in our overflowing prisons.

Nearly every case of delinquency may be prevented by the public schools if adequate personnel, facilities, and guidance authority are afforded. Thus, the predelinquent will have to follow a full wakening-hour daily program, and by authoritative direction, if necessary. But this will be required only for a small fraction of our children. Four percent are delinquent

A survey taken in Oakland County, involving all children in the elementary grades showed that the teachers believed the predelinquents constituted only 3.8 percent of the total group. In the same county, 700 delinquent children are superrised by the juvenile court as against a commensurate child population of 52,5+2. This is only 1.3 percent. Thus, the schools, the churches, and character building agencies are already solving nearly two-thirds of the problem.

Let me recite some typical juvenile court cases which illustrate both the need of school care and training, and likewise, how the schools could prevent delinquency.

Cleaned only for court

"Who's this nice, slick-looking, red-headed mother with these scrubbed-up children? What's this on the investigation report? 'Four neglected children, ages 5, 6, 8, and 9. Father just out of the Army. Mother keeps home dirty as a pigpen. Children without clothes or adequate food-left alone while mother out with other men. Children have lice and ringworm. Haven't been in school yet, although the semester is nearly over!!!

Judge to himself, "What a mother! Kids are cute now that they are cleaned up for court."

"What's that the father says? 'He's forgiven wife for tearing around. She has promised to straighten up and look after the kids.' Poor G. I. Joe--you've taken a lot on the chin. Do you really have such giant faith? Or were you a cheater too, and willing to forgive temporarily to salve your own conscience?

Aloud, "Anyway, sir, you deserve a try at it-say for 3 or 4 months. We'll check up on you—put your family on probation. We'll try to help you both. Get those kids in school! Clean things up! Start over again. Try to trust each other. If your affection for the children is great enough, you can do the trick! Good luck, soldier! Both of you should have been taught how to be good parents when you were young." Curley-haired youngster

Next case :

The judge thought, "Who's this cute, curly-headed boy? Twelve years oldattractive smile small for his age.” The report read, “Repeated and continuous larceny-rings doorbells to learn whether people are home or away.

Can even cut out window glass to open locked doors. Enjoys the thrill of illegal entry and theft.

“Parents divorced and both remarried. Lived 4 years with aged grandparents; 3 years with an uncle ; 4 years in boarding homes. Tried to live 1 year with mother and stepfather. Mother cried over him; stepfather lectured and 'bawled him out.' No one praised him for anything good.”

"Mmph," thought the judge, "might as well have no parents !” School reports read, “Can do work if he wants to. Teachers have all 'given up. He doesn't play with other kids. Is antisocial. Doesn't like games."

The judge mused to himself, "Has anyone ever spent any real time teaching him to enjoy other kids? His folks should have. If they didn't, at least the teachers were the only persons who had the opportunity. His parents didn't even permit him to join Scouts or attend a Sunday school. How this boy has been cheated in life! The greatest function of modern education is to teach a child to live happily with other people. This child doesn't even know the fundamentals." A sickly 10-year-old

Next case :

"Who is this pale, thin little fellow of 10? Is he sick?” The report and proofs show that he "complains of pains in his stomach-the mother repeatedly kept him home from school—but no doctor was called. The mother is insane mentally ill. The child is confused by the mother's abnormalities—doesn't know what to do-so he stays home.

The mother rants and raves—scares him. Maybe the whole world is crazy like mother says. This gives him a real or fanciful pain in his tummy. Dad doesn't help much-is cross and mean. (Really just tired and worried.)

“The child is 2 years retarded in school work." The judge decided, “The court will have to provide remedial reading for him and also help him catch up in arithmetic. Fortunately, we can do a good job with this boy. We'll hospitalize the mother. This boy's problem will be solved with expert child care.

These are true cases illustrating typical juvenile-court problems. The schools must be given authority over predelinquent children. beyond school hours.

The schools must assume the job of training the predelinquent or potentially delinquent child.

We must not forget that it is much more important that the child's mental, moral, and emotional health be cared for than even his obvious physical needs. If his emotions, habits, and thinking processes are perverted, abused, or unfairly treated, both he and society may be injured immeasurably.

PLACE OF THE VISITING TEACHER IN THE DELINQUENCY-PREVENTION PROGRAM There are 217,919 persons in prison in the United States, 99,249 in local jails, and an estimated 156,000 on probation from courts of record. Add to this the parolees, and there are an estimated half million criminals cared for largely at public expense. There are probably a like number under probation of inferior courts. The cost is enormous. Our failure to prevent delinquency is indeed a costly affair.

Social work in the schools on a full-day basis, namely, an intensified visitingteacher program, will prevent delinquency. Preschool children

It is well recognized that emotional problems of children often come in early childhood, long before the child enters school.

It is equally certain that the first 5 years of a child's life constitute the period when many habits should be secured to the child through preschool training. Then, too, the child's health is most important during those early preschool years.

Thus, it is quite obvious that we should begin to render child-care and childtraining service to the underprivileged and unfortunate child long before he begins school. Children between 5 and 9

The child who has an emotional or social problem which the parents cannot adequately cope with, must be given attention as follows:

First, the local teacher must develop a greater understanding of this individual child's need and fulfill that need by her personal contact to the largest degree possible. Some reduction in class load should be afforded most grade-school teachers for this purpose.

Second, grade-school teaching should be an 8-hour-day program, and at least an hour of the day should be available for consultation of parents, visitation of homes, and individual attention to children.

Third, many children dislike school because they have failed to grasp fundamentals of reading or arithmetic, and therefore cannot maintain their selfesteem in their grade placement. Much of this is rapidly being lessened through the use of remedial reading teachers, who rapidly teach these children to read. The visiting-teacher program has likewise stimulated teachers to give individual assistance to children in need. This is great work!

Where children have problems which are too deeply seated to be solved without additional professional case, child-guidance clinics should be available. Children between 9 and 14

Many good social habits are presently taught by excellent schools and intelligent teachers. However, it is the primary duty of the home to teach these same virtues outside of school hours. Our more fortunate children belong to characterbuilding agencies and moral-training groups, such as Boy and Girl Scouts, YMCA, Sunday-school classes, hobby groups, boys' clubs, and a multitude of others. As I have pointed out previously, the unfortunate fact is that the 4 percent of predelinquent children receive none, or little, of this training from their parents, and are rarely even encouraged to belong to character-building or morale-training organizations. Thus in reality, their lives are void of these beneficial contacts outside of school hours.

This means that the schools are spending possibly 6 hours a day toward character training of children, and that there are perhaps 10 hours additional time in the life of each predelinquent child when he receives no valuable training, and get more often actually is trained in moral degradation and anti-social conduct. Requires more supervision

Obviously, the school is working at an uphill job, because its influence is applied upon a minor portion of the child's life. Thus, where the children's parents neither afford the proper training nor see to it that these children obtain this training elesewhere, it should become immediately the duty of the school to enlarge its supervisory program over the child to a full 12-hour day.

Let me illustrate. Let us say that the visiting teacher and the home room teacher know definitely that Johnnie is allowed to run the streets from the time he leaves school until all hours of the night; that he belongs to no church or Sunday school, does not belong to the Boy Scouts, YMCA, boys' club, or similar character building organization. They know that his physical exercise is had in sneaky pursuits, bullying tactics, and search for excitement, rather than

in healthful sports and games; and that he hangs out at the corner drug store instead of spending his evenings at home.

The way to attack this problem is to give the school the right to supervise this youngster from the time school lets out until he goes to bed.

Nine-tenths of our delinquents must be supervised in their own inadequate homes. Obviously, our school teachers must assume this obligation. Age 14 to 18

Here, again, we need a full 12-hour program for the child who is a predelinquent. It should be the duty of the visiting teacher, or school social worker, in each school, to be a substitute parent to the predelinquent child; to plan or supervise his entire out-of-school program, and to lead the child into characterbuilding clubs, healthy recreation, and social and religious training.

Every child should be educated through high-school age. Unfortunately, our modern high schools are not equipped to give trade-school education to many children who cannot profit by academic training. We should immediately make trade schools available to many high-school students by combining or centralizing such trade schools. However, it should be remembered that even children of dull mentality should be educated through 18 years of age, and this education should include education in social living, parenthood, child care, household, and manual-arts training. There is no need to reject a child from high school because he cannot do geometry or understand physics. The point is he still needs a great deal of training to be a good citizen. The visiting teacher

The visting teacher will not cure bad homes or poor parentage, but she assists many children in "living over” family problems. Enlarging and improving our school programs and facilities is the most feasible plan for prevention of juvenile delinquency. The school is today the juvenile court's best friend.

My hat is off to that greatest of all professional people—our teachers. Conclusion

The visting-teacher program, or school social-work program, if fully extended through the child's out-of-school hours and pursued on an intensified basis, will prevent juvenile delinquency. Summary

You say to me that this program involves a huge expenditure of money. It does involve additional expense, but I am confident that on a long-range basis it will actually produce a saving in public expense.

There is no question that we could spend several times the amount required by this program, were we to be sure that we would gradually reduce our annual crime bill, eliminate much of the problem of unfortunate and unhappy childhood, and greatly improve and strengthen our most valuable national asset-our youth.

Every individual child has an inalienable right as an American to this program.

EXHIBIT 24
PHILADELPHIA CHILD GUIDANCE CLINIC,

Philadelphia 46, Pa., June 24, 1946. Senator (LAUDE PEPPER,

United States Senate, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR SENATOR PEPPER: I want to add my support to the maternal and childhealth bill now being considered by the Senate. The passage of this bill would strengthen the essential services needed throughout the country for the health and welfare of children.

There is little I could add to a discussion of the needs that this bill seeks to meet. But there is one important aspect of this whole program I want to stress and that is the support it will give to professional training for the personnel so essential to bring into action the program provided by the bill. It goes without saying that the value of the whole program depends upon the quality of the professional people who must carry it out. And it is equally apparent that there is great dearth of trained personnel for this program. This applies to physicians, public-health nurses, and social workers, and no program can be developed without these three professional groups working together.

I am particularly aware of this shortage in the child guidance field which is concerned with the mental health of children. The bottleneck for expanded services in this field is in this lack of trained people.

So I would stress particularly the need for expanding present training resources and developing new ones as a primary consideration.

As I read the bill, I am not too clear on how this could be accomplished. But the language of the bill seems sufficiently flexible to allow support to be given for this purpose.

I have been director of a child-guidance clinic for over 20 years. In that time I have learned the importance of parental responsibility both in electing to use this service and in actively participating in it. One feature of this participation is the partial payment by parents for the service. When they are allowed to pay for a service in accordance with their means, much more is accomlished.

I don't know how this same principle could be developed and administered in the large program which this bill would open up. But I am concerned about providing it without any way for allowing people to carry some responsibility for the cost. I know I would never run a child-guidance clinic without providing for this type of participation, and I feel the same applies to other phases of a child-health program.

Automatically setting up a means test is bad because it penalizes people able to pay part of the costs for a service they might not be able to get otherwise. But providing a free service paid for out of public funds would also bar a good many because of their desire to pay their way.

I don't know what the answer to this can be. It might be an administrative matter that could not be written into the bill. But I hope that the bill will not eliminate the possibility of working out some plan that would allow this type of participation. I do want this bill passed and it has my support. Sincerely yours,

FREDERICK H. ALLEN, M. D., Director.

EXHIBIT 25

THE NATIONAL COMMITTEE FOR MENTAL HYGIENE,

New York 19, N. Y., June 20, 1946. Hon. CLAUDE PEPPER,

United States Senate, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR SENATOR PEPPER: While the National Committee for Mental Hygiene as such has taken no action on S. 1318, I have gone over the bill personally in detail and am pleased to give you my personal reactions to it.

The provisions of this bill contain many elements that would contribute to the enhancement of mental health and I shall refer to these elements specitically on page and line number.

Page 2, line 1, a very fundamental point is touched upon. It has been presumed in the past that the very young baby is too insensitive to the mental attitudes of the mother to be much influenced by them, but the studies of Dr. Margaret Ribble, Dr. Margaret Fries, and Dr. David M. Levy and others have shown that this is not the case. A great deal is now known that could be put into effect in the preparation of parents for the reception of the child and for maintaining a whole. some attitude toward it especially in the beginning of its career. It is significant that Dr. Ribble's book The Rights of Infants has gone through a number of printings and that it validates some of the more homely beliefs that have become a part of the folklore of motherhood over a long period of time. Especially important is the display of affection for and the fondling of the child which seems to contribute definitely to its healthy growth and development and which is lost in some of the colder processes that have been in vogue in recent decades. The readiness of parents to provide the child with this atmosphere is detectable in the prenatal period and steps could be taken then to correct any deficiencies that may be found. It is interesting that the capacity to give affection is apparently not related to the intelligence of the parents and correspondingly this is a consideration that affects the whole population and not merely those who are economically handicapped.

The interference with growth and development of the young baby is lasting and its ill effects not easily outgrown and by the age of 3 these effects have become deeply ingrained. (See lines 7 and 8.)

Line 10. reference is made to the training of personnel. This is especially significant since both nurses and doctors are in a position to sense needs and to develop seiliness on the part of parents to provide the child with the atmosphere essenti:

healthy growth.

« PreviousContinue »