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again let off. Willie, to complete his record, broke several car windows. While the officers were puzzling themselves what to do with him, a gentleman interested in this sort of boys took Willie to a Farm for Boys near Jackson. Since then he has been doing quite well. Perhaps all he needed was an opportunity to exercise his superabundant energies where little harm could be done. *

These cases show how intimate is the relation between destitute, neglected and delinquent children. A distinct line can hardly be drawn between them. Imperceptibly they merge one into the other. A number of cases might be cited; but these are suggestive enough. They well illustrate the fact that juvenile offenders are largely the product of adverse social conditions. When police, court and jail officials, supported by a strong public sentiment, fully realize this better treatment of our juvenile offenders will be assured.



It must be confessed we are approaching a question upon which there have been a great diversity of opinion and much profitless discussion. The underlying causes of juvenile delinquency, as well as of crime in general, are very elusive. It is not the intention to take. up in this place all the theories advanced. No one cause can be assigned for all juvenile delinquency. It is the product of many factors in the life of the individual and of the complex society of which he is a part. Morrison very well puts it when he writes, “The great sources of crime are the personal, the social and the economic conditions of the individuals who commit it". A convenient classification into individual, social and cosmical causes is given by Havelock Ellis and W. D. Morrison. "The cosmical factors of crime are climate and the variations of temperature; the social factors are the political, economic and moral conditions in the midst of which a man lives as a member of society; the individual factors are a class of attributes inherent in the individual, such as sex, age, bodily and mental characteristics”.' In a general way, the evident causes of the offenses in the cases studied in Detroit will be grouped under these heads.

*See also the fifty illustrative cases given in the Appendix.

Whether approached from the biological or sociois the old problem of heredity and environment. While biologists are debating as to the inheritance of acquired characteristics, and sociologists still sifting and arranging the complex mass of data which they have gathered, we can scarcely hope for a complete and satisfactory explanation of the causes of crime. Whatever conclusions may finally be reached, it is quite certain that both heredity and environment will be found to have much to do with juvenile delinquency.

On a recent tour of the police precincts of Detroit the question was asked the Captains what, in their opinion, was the principal cause of juvenile delinquency. Practically without exception the answer was, “neglected childhood resulting from bad home surroundings and vicious street associations”. Many others having to do with juvenile offenders have substantially given the same

“Of course, some boys and girls brought up in good homes go astray; but the cause in these cases can often be found in bad companions or misdirected energies”. How important it then becomes to improve home conditions, to safeguard our boys and girls with a healthier social environment and to direct wisely their energies.


8Crime and Its Causes, by W. D. Morrison, p. 3. 'Ibid, p. 21.

There can be no doubt a certain predisposition to criminal offenses exists in some individuals. Is it too much, however, to say that even this may be largely overcome with proper nourishment, suitable education and a purer social atmosphere? It is indeed hopeful that we are turning aside from the old ideas of “original sin” and “once a thief, always a thief”, and are seeking diligently for the preventable causes of social disorder.


Sex and Age. In looking over the police returns for the city of Detroit a certain relation is seen to exist between the age and sex of juvenile offenders, and the number and character of offenses committed. Of the total 689 juvenile arrests in 1901-2, 571 were boys and 118 girls. The total number of arrests of boys for the past five years has been 2,598, and of girls 518.* On the average, between five and six boys are arrested each year to one girl. This of course is only a rough index to the total amount of juvenile delinquency in the city. Not all the "bad boys” are arrested, while the “goody-goodies” are quite likely to fall into the hands of the police. But the figures do show that a certain definite relation exists.

The principal reasons for this difference in number between male and female offenders are quite evident. The weaker physical organization of the girl necessarily prevents her from committing many anti-social acts which her brother could do with comparative ease. А glance at the Appendix will show that girls are very little given to offenses against person or property, their offenses being largely truancy and immoral conduct.

*See Appendix, Tables I.-II.

But it would be an error to think that boys are five times as criminally inclined as girls. Other important facts must be considered. Police authorities, supported by public sentiment, deal more leniently with female offenders. The young girl is left to do much her own will during those years in which many boys are arrested. She may commit some trivial offense two, three, or even four times without the police taking much notice of it. In this way she drifts until some serious offense, of which the law must take cognizance, is committed. Of the cases personally recorded but few have been girls charged with truancy alone or petty larceny.10 The greater number had committed more serious offenses, such as larceny, running away from home, or immoral acts. Ofttimes the girl is simply held for “truancy”, the graver charge being omitted to avoid the stigma of crime.

After due allowance is made for the weakness of the female offender and the attitude of the police there still remains an appreciable number of male arrests in excess of female. There seems to be no other conclusion but that girls, on the whole, are morally better than boys.

The age of "our juvenile offenders”, as suggested above, is also closely related to the number and nature of offenses. Boys usually begin their sinister career with truancy at 8, 9, or 10 years of age. “In the great majority of cases, the boy is not to blame for his truancy. He is a lad with a distaste for school, or disregard for parental authority and a possible physical, mental and moral deterioration". 11 It might be added that this is largely due to parental neglect and improper nutrition. The "distaste for school" is sometimes engendered in the school itself.

Truancy, if not checked, soon becomes habitual. From

10See Appendix, Table II.

11 Charities Review, vol. x. (pp. 177–82). Truancy: Causes and Remedies, by Elliot R. Downing, p. 181.


habitual truancy to vagrancy is an easy step. The next is to petty larceny. By this time the boy has probably been two or three times before the Police Court. Perhaps he has had his first experience behind prison bars. He is going through the hardening process. Gradually lie evolves into an habitual offender. The largest number of boys arested are between 14 and 15 years of age, and between those ages the largest number are committed to the Industrial School for Boys at Lansing.

With girls, on the other hand, it is somewhat different. Very few arrests are made between 8 and 12 years of age. After 13 years the number of girls brought into the Police Court rises rapidly, until between 16 and 17 we find the largest number arrested, and between those ages the largest number are committed to the Industrial Home for Girls at Adrian. 13

From other reliable statistics it might be shown that during those years of immaturity the largest number of adult habitual offenders began their criminal career, the boys beginning at a younger age than the girls. It is the testimony of many that while girls mature later in crime than do the boys, yet they become eventually more hardened, cruel and incorrigible.


General Bodily Conditions. To one familiar with our juvenile offenders there can be little doubt that in many cases immaturity or physical weakness is, directly or indirectly, responsible for their anti-social acts. The weakness itself may be due to insufficient and improper nourishment, lack of pure air in dwellings, too heavy labor and late hours; or the child may be suffering from some congenital dis

12See Appendix, Tables III. and IV. 18 See Appendix. Tables III. and V. i«The Sukes, by R. L. Dugdale, pp. 102-109.

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