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that small class of unfortunate children who show an utter lack of moral responsibility. They are more properly classed as degenerates, and should receive treatment accordingly. It is unscientific, as well as unkind, to treat them in the police courts and jails as other children, regarded as normal, are treated. Separate treatment in special institutions should be provided.
The social causes of juvenile delinquency are so complex that it would take more space than can here be given for their complete discussion. Under the head of “Social Traits" concrete examples were given which well illustrate some of the social factors entering into the problem. A careful reading of the “Fifty Illustrative Cases” given in the appendix to this study will also throw added light upon the matter. In this place I will give only a brief summary of the principal social causes drawn largely from personal study of delinquent children, and of the environment from which they come.
It will be convenient to classify them under four heads, as follows: I. Bad
I. Bad home environment. . 2. Economic conditions. 3. Moral conditions, and 4. Political conditions.
The most immediate cause of delinquency is no doubt to be found in a bad home environment. Shiftlessness of parents with their indifference to the pressing needs of the children is the cause of many a boy being in a reform or industrial school. A disregard of family ties and immorality on the part of parents is only another phase of the same question. Other causes not in the parents themselves, but rooted in the conditions under which they are living may be found in the crowded, unhealthy state of many districts in our large cities. Hand in hand with this are defective sanitation, insufficient food and fresh air. No one of these conditions alone can account for juvenile delinquency, but each is a factor in the whole problem.
The most important factors under the head of economic conditions are to be found in industrial changes, and in the improper employment of women and children.
Under moral conditions we may mention drunkenness and immorality of parents, vicious associations on the public streets, the unwholesome influence of saloors and houses of ill fame, and over stimulation due to cheap variety shows.
Bad legislation, the non-enforcement of laws and defective judicial and punitive machinery add their quota to the causes already mentioned.
It is seen therefore that many things are to be taken into consideration in dealing with our juveniles. Special investigation of the causes leading to offenses is absolutely essential to the best treatment of the offenders. The treatment itself should be of a kind suited to the individual needs of the offender. Let us see what it now is, and what improvement, if any, could be made upon the present system.
THE TREATMENT OF OUR JUVENILE OFFENDERS.
In Michigan four methods have been tried with more or less success in the treatment of neglected, dependent and delinquent children. For convenience the treatment may be classified as educational, charitable, punitive and reformatory. These have never been entirely separated from one another, an inevitable overlapping having taken place. At one tim stress was laid upon the punitive niethod and at another "reformation” and “charitable effort" were thought to lie the determining factors. Of late, however, much attention has been given to proper education. It is safe to say from the varied experience of the past that no one method can ever solve such a complex problem as juvenile delinquency. It may be that a judicious combination of all the methods more carefully wrought out will offer a satisfactory solution. Before this is possible a thorough comparative and constructive study of the various methods of treatment must be made.
In the past, charitable and educational treatment was given largely to neglected, defective and dependent children; while the so-called delinquents were subjected to punishment and reformation. Recent advances in sociology and penology have revealed that the causes leading to neglect and dependency are closely allied to delinquency. We are, therefore, forced to reconsider our methods of treatment and adjust them to the individual needs of unfortunate children.
As has previously been pointed out, a great deal of delinquency begins while children are under the influence of our educational system. The State of Michigan provides :
"That every parent, guardian or other person in the State of Michigan having control and charge of any child or children between the ages of eight and fifteen years and in cities between the ages of seven and fifteen years, shall be required to send such child or children to the public school for a period of at least four months in each school year, except that in cities having a duly constituted police force, the attendance at school shall not be limited to four months, beginning on the first Monday of the first term in his or her district after September first of each year. And such attendance, in cities, shall be consecutive until each and every pupil between the ages of seven and fifteen years shall have attended school the entire school year previous to the thirtieth day of June in each school year."17
Certain provisions are made for children taught in private schools and for those unable physically to attend. Under certain conditions, children over 14 years of age may be exempt from attendance at school for either a part, or for the whole, of the time until they reach the age of 15 years.
It is thus seen that provision has been made for the education, up to a certain age, of practically every boy and girl in the state. It is, therefore, natural to inquire why so many children enter the ranks of delinquents, and begin a criminal career, while they are still under the influence of the educational system. Truancy is the germ from which much delinquency grows. contributory roots; but it is safe to say that the germ when once planted in the child finds a very fertile soil, and draws its nourishment largely from the social environment. It is pertinent that we should enquire to what extent truancy prevails, and what steps in our educational system are being taken to prevent it.
According to the School Census taken in the city of Detroit, September, 1901, there were 35,277 children between 8 and under 14 years of age. Of this number, so the census states, 34,452 attended school, leaving only 825 who did not have some school instruction. The figures between 8 and 14 years are taken because during that period the children usually begin, and become confirmed in, the truancy habit. Between those ages also the largest number of habitual truants are brought
It has many
17General School Laws of Michigan, 1901; Act 95, 1895; No. 4847; Amended 1901, Act 83.
into Court. The above figures, while not entirely satisfactory as they stand, will nevertheless serve as a convenient basis for comparison with others.
The total number of persons between 5 and (under) 20 years of age as given in the same census is 83,215, of which number 31,661 are not attending school. There are in the city 70 public schools with an attendance of 34,888, and 56 private or select schools with 16,666
To what extent, then, does truancy prevail among this comparatively large number of children of the school age? The principal of the Public Ungraded School (truant school) received during the school year ending June 19, 1902, 8,204 truant reports, which were turned over to the Truant Squad of the police department for investigation. This number of itself is rather misleading as to the total number of individual cases of truancy. It includes duplicate cases, cases of chilren having changed from one school to another without notifying the former principal, and cases of boys having left school to go to work. A certain per cent of the children reported as truant were unavoidably detained at home. Allowance must be made for all these factors. From my experience with the boys in schools, police courts and on the streets, I should say that possibly half the above number would more nearly express the amount of truancy, occasional and habitual.
For comparison let us take some suggestive figures from the report of the Lieutenant of the Truant Squad for 1901-2: Number of children found on the street, not attending any school ...
627 Number of warrants erved on parents and truants. . 1269
18From the Census of September, 1901.