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probation officers delight in telling stories of the conduct of their young charges. The children report, when practicable, to officers of their own religious faith.

Thus is the child made to feel that its religion is respected. In treating with children I consider this very important. The Jewish child finds a sympathetic hand pointing upward. The Catholic and Protestant are encouraged, each according to his own conception, to maintain as his ideal the beautiful life and sad but glorious death of Him who said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me.”


By Hon. JULIUS M. MAYER, Justice of the Court of Special Sessions.

The first year of the children's court for the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx (the old city of New York) ended on September 2, 1903. During that time there were arraigned, in round numbers, 7,400 children under the age of 16 years. An accurate statistical report is now being prepared in which will be set forth with much particularity the various data as to nature of offense, convictions, discharges, commitments, paroles, suspension after parole, etc. What we are all most interested in, however, are the general human propositions relating to this subject of child crime and parental neglect in the city of New York.

The children who have been arraigned may be broadly classified as-
(1) Mischievous children.
(2) Children who commit crimes because of temptation.

(3) Children who commit crimes because of environment and bad associations.

(4) Children who commit crimes because of parental neglect or incompetency.

(5) Children with what may be called criminal tendencies.
(6). Children who are runaways and vagrants.
(7) Disorderly and ungovernable children.
(8) Children who are neglected or abused by their parents.

(1) Mischietous children.-Very many children are arraigned because they engage in playing shinny, football, baseball, and other innocent games on public thoroughfares or build bonfires on the asphalt or other pavements. These acts are, of course, innocent in themselves, but are prohibited in the interest of the safety of life, limb, or property in our crowded streets. In many of these cases the judges find that the children do not know why these acts are prohibited. The child, of course, must play, and until the playgrounds of the city catch up with the needs of the child population, children must necessarily use the streets and play those games or their variations which have been known to all children for all time.

A fine or commitment to a reformatory is rarely imposed in such

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cases, but the judge presiding takes great pains to point out why the game, innocent in itself, must not be played in the streets, and the parent is also instructed, with the result that very few boys offend twice in this particular. Under this general head, however, falls a class of street nuisance both prevalent and dangerous. The stone battle between boys who are members of various street gangs or crowds is a reminder almost of mediæval times. Not long since some of the “Seventy-fifth streeters” and the “Seventy-sixth streeters” were arrested. With perfect frankness and utterly unconscious either of the humor of the situation or of its seriousness, the leader of the “Seventy-sixth streeters," a boy about 12 years old, said to the court that the “Seventy-fifth streeters had stolen the election.”

It appeared that the “Seventy-sixth streeters" had saved up considerable wood and other material for bonfires on election night, and all this material had been captured and secreted by the “Seventyfifth streeters.” Whereupon, according to the exact account of the leader of the “Seventy-sixth streeters,” the “Seventy-sixth streeters declared war.” The war consisted of a stone battle in which about 100 or 200 boys engaged. It is safe to say that not one in ten of these boys realized that the stone battle involved any danger to others than themselves. Hence the additional difficulty of determining what to do in such cases. On the one hand, the citizen upon the thoroughfare and the real-estate owner must be protected; and, on the other hand, a fine ordinarily means a very serious drain upon a respectable parent, and a short commitment of ten, twenty, or thirty days to a reformatory means a loss to the child of employment if he be working, or a serious interruption to his school course if he be a schoolboy. Usually such boys are placed on parole, with the exception that when an epidemic of stone battles breaks out in a neighborhood a fine or brief commitment is imposed upon the ringleaders as an example and a deterrent.

Upon several occasions, when addressing school-teachers and others interested in school work, I have earnestly suggested that it would be most desirable if some time in every week could be spent in explaining to the children the reasons why these acts must not be committed. Most boys, when asked why they should not throw stones or do other mischievous acts which are dangerous, answer, “Because I shall be arrested,” but are unable to answer the next question, “Why will you be arrested?” This class of mischief will be reduced to a minimum by the adequate increase of playgrounds, where children may have decent amusement which occupies their time and attention. Even in the absence of adequate playgrounds much can be done by schoolteachers and parents teaching simple lessons in practical civics.

(2) Children who commit crimes because of temptation. The crime committed under this head is most usually theft. It is with children as with adults. The opportunity presents itself at a time when the child for some reason or other is weakest. For instance, in one case a messenger boy was one Saturday morning intrusted by a merchant with $3 with which to send a cable. The boy had for some time been anxious to see a certain play at the theater. The boy when questioned told how the thought came to him that the chance was ripe to gratify his desire, and how two or three times he resisted the temptation and finally succumbed, so that he disappeared with the money and went to the theater. This boy was the son of a respectable poor widow who was employed as a cleaner in an office building, and the boy up to that time had faithfully given his earnings to his mother.

Another very interesting case was that of a boy who was the son of well-to-do people. He was a great student and reader, and his parents had from time to time purchased for him books aggregating upward of 300 volumes. The boy was very anxious to get a certain book relating to travel, and while in a department store making some other purchases he noticed that this particular book was displayed for sale. Ile had spent all the money that day which his parents had allowed him. The boy was highly conscious of his wrongdoing, and he told how he had walked away two or three times from the counter where the book was displayed and had conquered himself. Finally, as he put it, “the devil must have been in me, because I had to go back again and the last time I took the book.” Many instances of one kind or another might be given of boys of good tendencies and moral surroundings who have yielded to temptation just at a time when they seemed least able to resist. Such boys are placed on parole, and the system of parole when applied in these cases has resulted in a high average of success.

(3) Children who commit crime because of environment and bad associations.-Without attempting to consider long-mooted questions of heredity and environment and the like, it is safe to say that in the life of New York City bad environment is a powerful factor as an influence in child life. “Fagin” is a reality on the lower east side of the city. Case after case has come before the court in which it has appeared that children have been taught to steal by older boys and young men, who use these children as their tools and who profit from their crime. The picking of pockets and the snatching of purses, chatelaines, and other articles in which women carry money and valuables is sadly prevalent. The skill of these child pickpockets is little less than marvelous. They usually work in threes. One boy opens the purse or chatelaine and grabs the money. He passes it to another boy, who disappears as fast as he can, and the third boy throughout the transaction, by one expedient or another, diverts the attention of the person whose pocket is being picked or whose property is being taken.

In a large percentage of these cases the parents are respectable, hard-working people; in many the children have good school records; but the difficulty is that these children have no money to spend, so that their desire to have what other children have-candy, soda water, neckties, children's fobs and the like-can not be gratified. Thus the “Fagin” finds an easy subject when he points out to the child that it will get a certain percentage of the proceeds of any theft which it successfully accomplishes.

These “Fagins" control the children to some extent also through a sense of fear. They threaten bodily harm, and between the temptations of gain and the feeling of fear the children come completely under their control.

Not long since a boy gave a complete exhibition of how to pick a pocket or steal a purse or snatch a chatelaine, and the same boy told how, when a boy was arrested, there was always somebody ready to go bail and to look out for him. This boy was 9 years old, and some conception of his knowledge may be gained by the language he used. He said that in a certain street there was “a band of grafters." He described what was meant by “the stall” (the third boy who engages the attention of the citizen while the others are picking his pockets), and showed a knowledge of methods which was extraordinary. The children who belong to this class are most largely children of the more recent immigrants, and while the parents are in most cases decent and hard working their struggle for existence is so hard that they do not seem to be able to give to their children that attention which more fortunate parents in less congested neighborhoods can give. The life of the children is in the main on the street, and it is there that they form these dangerous associations. In some cases a parole has been tried, and where the parents have moved to other neighborhoods the parole has usually been successful. On the other hand, where the same treatment has been tried in a case where the parents have remained in the same neighborhood, the parole has frequently been unsuccessful and the children have come back to court a second time charged with the same character of offense and have necessarily been committed to a reformatory.

Under this same classification, too, are to be found children who are the victims of the lower class of junk dealers. The legal difficulties of bringing home the crime of stolen goods have been peculiarly great in the case of junk dealers. For a long time many of these junk dealers in New York have induced, sanctioned, or encouraged children to steal lead pipe, iron, copper wire, and similar articles of junk which can be melted and the identification thereof destroyed. Last year the penal code was amended, upon the suggestion of this court, by providing that the purchase by a junk dealer of any goods, wares, or merchandise from a child under 16 constitutes a misdemeanor. This law went into effect on September 1, 1903, and in the first case before the court of special sessions the defendant was fined, with a warning that in the next case a convicted junk dealer would be imprisoned. A second case followed, and the junk dealer was sentenced to imprisonment. It is hoped that this class of crime will be as effectually stamped out as has been the pledging of goods by children with pawnbrokers. A provision of the law, similar in purpose, has been most effective in the case of pawnbrokers, so that now it is extremely rare for one to take a pledge from a child. Already, in the matter of the junk dealer, there is a marked diminution in the theft of junk by children.

For the class of crime referred to under this head there can be no specific remedy suggested. It will continue so long as the population in certain parts of a city is congested and the opportunities for close association with older and criminal boys and youths made easy. As the work of the settlements and the various other educational and philanthropic activities progresses, and as more children are drawn thereby to attractive surroundings, we may hope for less of this kind of crime. But a great difficulty, as I have suggested, is the inability of the parent to give the necessary supervision to the child, as well as the failure of the parent who has lived until middle life under other conditions in other countries to understand the peculiarities and the difficulties of life in a large American city.

(4) Children who commit crime because of parental neglector incompetency.-In this class of cases are to be included those children whose parents are intemperate, shiftless, or dishonest, and who become thieves, beggars, or vagrants because a bad example is constantly before them, and they really have no home. That a child under these circumstances goes astray is not to be wondered at, although frequently it is found that, where one of the parents is good, the child follows its example. There are, however, numbers of families where both parents are utterly unfit guardians. Parents of this kind are not new. Doubtless they are as old as civilization itself. In these cases the proper course is commitment to a reformatory, for parole or probation is rarely of any value where there is no proper home influence.

The difficult cases to deal with, however, are the cases of children whose parents are industrious and reputable, but who seem to have no conception at all of their duties toward their children. They fail to make a study of the child. They fail to understand him.

Frequently the father, who could well afford to give his child recreation, or a little spending money, will hold his son by so tight a rein that the child is bound to break away. Other parents of this character take from their children every cent of their earnings, allowing them only enough to pay their car fare, and sometimes not enough to buy a bowl of milk and crackers for their luncheon.

I can very well understand how, in small towns and villages and country dis

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