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CHILD PROTECTION AND EDUCATION.
The problem of social vice cannot be solved by any short and sure method. The efforts to protect children from evil influence require the consideration of many problems. The greatest influence in the child's life is religion. We may educate the child and improve his economic condition, but without a moral instinct he will not be a moral child. Another great factor in immorality is the taint of heredity. For this there can be but one solution—the growth in righteousness and the overcoming of the in.moral instinct through religious conviction, and passing to the future generation a pure mind and a clean heart.
Five factors enter into the moulding of a child's character—the church, the home, the school, social environment, and the amusements which it employs during its leisure hours.
Children of all ages need guidance and protection. While many children develop into useful citizens in spite of evil surroundings, a few eventually become a menace to society in spite of every effort in their behalf. Next to a religious influence, the rule still holds that a good home, a good education and environment, healthful employment and recreation under moral conditions, are very much to be desired, and it is a great misfortune when these have not been given. Immoral influences are frequently thrust upon children through the pernicious activities of immoral people, and because of lack of protection, proper instructions or guidance from those who should have the child's welfare at heart.
The problem of the care of children in the school is not within the scope of this report, except in so far as schools are affected by vice districts in their neighborhood, or by immoral children or adults in or near them, or by the dangers from children who may be afflicted with disease. To protect children from these dangers all possible means should be adopted.
Education alone has seldom protected either children or grown people, except in a limited way, unless a moral character is developed
along with the instruction. However, for those who have moral character, or those in whom it can be developed, a proper education will enable them to avoid or protect themselves from what is wrong, and help them to choose those things which make for health and right living
Investigation into city conditions shows that it is often difficult and sometimes impossible to protect children and young people from the activities of vicious people. Harm sometimes comes from a misunderstanding of their own physical and emotional life. Each young person should know how and what to avoid, to understand the meaning of improper advances. In order to know what is needed for the protection of young people the dangers to which they are subjected must be pointed out.
According to the law all persons under the age of twenty-one years are considered wards of the State of Illinois, and their persons are subject to the care, guardianship and control of the courts, provided, however, that guardianship of the child be had by the court before child has reached eighteen years. For the purpose of this report then, it is understood that this study refers to the protection of all children whatever their age, and education of all young persons between the age of puberty and the age of majority.
It should be borne in mind that the immoral influences and dangers which surround children and young people affect them to a greater or less degree according to their ages. For instance, if the child is quite young, these evil impressions may become fixed and have a marked influence throughout its whole life, or these evil impressions may be counteracted by wise methods, if administered in time. After the age of puberty these influences become grave and often result in the immediate downfall of the child. This downfall becomes permanent unless heroic measures are taken to save him.1.
The following report, therefore, points out the immoral influences surrounding children of all ages.
1For text of laws and ordinances, see appendices XVIII, XX, XXII, XXIII, XXIV, XXV, XXXI, XXXVIII.
IMMORAL INFLUENCES AND DANGERS.
1. Children in Vicinity of Vice Districts. It is a notorious fact that many children of all ages are compelled by poverty or circumstances to live within or in close proximity to the restricted districts in Chicago. Because of this these children are subjected to great moral dangers. They become familiar with scenes of debauchery and drunkenness until they are careless and indifferent. Their moral standards are lowered to such an extent that it is difficult to fill their minds with wholesome thoughts and high ideals. In addition to the presence of prostitutes near the homes, the children are in danger from vicious men and boys who frequent such districts.
According to the school census taken in 1910, there were 3,931 children under twenty-one years of age in the First Ward. Of this number, 1,246 were under four years of age, 259 from four to five, 216 from five to six, 257 from six to seven, 1,124 from seven to fourteen, 313 from fourteen to sixteen, and 513 over sixteen and under twenty
The principal restricted district in the City of Chicago is located in the southern part of the First Ward. Within the boundaries of this district there are 298 children of all ages from babies in arms to those twenty years of age. .
Sixty-seven of these children live in a row of houses on South Clark street, one block in length. The rear of these houses overlooks the rear rooms of a row of houses of prostitution with front entrances on the next street. The houses are dilapidated tenements and are used by the families on account of the cheap rent. The majority of these are children of foreign parents. The ages of these children range from three months to seventeen years.
It is asserted that these families may witness scenes of depravity through the windows of their houses, and that the children are in great moral danger from the intimate association with vice.
Some of the children within these boundaries are living in close proximity to houses of prostitution and saloons frequented by prostitutes.
For instance, nine children, from one to nineteen years of age live at (X1129) State street. There is a notorious saloon at (X1130) State, a few doors away.
I'wenty-four children live on State street from (X1131) to (X1132)
near disreputable saloons, and only one block away from the notorious houses on Dearborn street.
18th Ward. According to the school census for 1910 there were 4,364 children in the 18th Ward. Of this number, 1,032 were under four, 84 from four to five, 98 from five to six, 87 from six to seven, 1,518 from seven to fourteen, 330 from fourteen to sixteen and 1,215 over sixteen and under twenty-one.
Within the boundaries of the restricted district in this district there are 433 children from babies in arms to twenty-one years of age.
Of these, 154 live on the boundaries.
The children living within these boundaries are in close proximity to houses of prostitution and disorderly saloons.
The Commission has a record of a prostitute on Randolph street soliciting two boys in knee pants to enter and offering as an inducement "two for a quarter."
One day a man was solicited by a prostitute standing on the porch of her home in one of the restricted districts while a number of young boys were playing in the street in front of this house.
The following history of a tenement family near the 22nd street district is a case in point:
A skilled mechanic had a wife and four children (one boy and three girls). The children were well cared for and went to Sunday-school as long as the mother lived. The father drank some but seemed to take good care of his family, and his wages were frequently as high as $4.50 a day. When the oldest girl was eleven the mother died. The father continued to care for his family, and, while he drank, it did not seem to be a case where the courts should take the children away from him. The boy was killed while playing in the street. The girls took care of the house, but the denizens of the restricted district made the acquaintance of the children as they went to neighborhood stores or when they were on the street. As fast as each little girl was old enough she was enticed into the vice district and in time all became public prostitutes.
II. Prostitution in Residential Sections. The investigation of existing conditions in Chicago proves conclusively that there are many immoral women living in flats and furnished rooms all over the city in residential sections. Here again children of the neighborhood come
to know the character of the women and instances have come to light where they have actually been enticed into their homes. The children run errands for these women and receive presents of candy and fruit in return for such services. In one particular instance a woman solicited from the doorway of a house while a child was playing on the porch.
Special reference should be made here to the colored children who are compelled to live in one of the colored communities on South State street just outside the boundaries of the restricted district on the South Side.
It is said there are 173 saloons in this community, many of which are given over to gambling and are frequented by immoral women and vicious men. In this neighborhood there are a great many flats and assignation rooms occupied by prostitutes.
Many colored and white children live among these immoral and degrading conditions.
As these young colored girls reach maturity they easily fall a prey to prostitution. Many of them are employed in houses and flats of prostitution where they act as maids, cooks and attendants.1
III. Disorderly Saloons and Schools. There are a number of saloons in the city frequented by dissolute and vicious men and immoral women in close proximity to school houses. One school property in particular on the North Side adjoins the lot on which a disorderly saloon building is located.
The rooms over the saloon are used for immoral purposes, and the school authorities testify that the children may see into these rooms from the school windows and from the playgrounds.2
IV. Disorderly Saloons and Children. In addition to the proximity of schools to disorderly saloons, the investigation shows that very young boys are allowed to frequent disorderly saloons. The following cases are typical:
A boy about ten years of age named Jimmie has frequently been seen selling gum after 12:00 o'clock at night in disreputable saloons on South Halsted and West Madison streets.
One evening a boy about fifteen years of age was loitering about the rear room of a disorderly saloon on Chicago avenue.
1See Chapter IV, “Sources of Supply,” page 218.