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We Advocate the Establishment of a Juvenile Court Law for Every State in the Union.
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Mrs. Douglas Robinson, sister of President Roosevelt, gave a dinner and vaudeville program to the boys of the New York Newsboys' home recently. This home was organized about thirty years ago through the efforts of Theodore Roosevelt, Sr. The present building was erected by John Jacob Astor, Sr. A more modern structure will soon be erected in West Thirty-fifth street, between Seventh and Eighth avenues.
Reported legislation and numerous compulsory education enactments have not eradicated child labor in England. An investigation by the education department of Great Britain shows that no less than 144,000 children attending school were employed either before or after school hours, or both, for a very small remuneration, at some form of work for periods ranging from twenty to eighty hours a week. These figures rather underestimate the total number, as the compilers did not include those children who had a regular occupation after school or those whose work was not, in their judgment, prejudicial to health.
Children the country over are required to work, some before they are fit. Some millions of farmers' boys and girls must assist in the labors of the farm. The boys plow and hoe and reap and mow and tend the stock. The girls do housework; the family rises early and works late, in the crop season. The boys, in fall and winter, do the chores outside and the girls get breakfast and put the house in order; the morning meal disposed of, they all set off to school. On their return home in the evening they go through a routine similar to the one of the morning. And from this stock is drawn the best brain found in the great cities, the ablest political leaders, lawyers, journalists, etc.; the great captains of industry. Why should not children work at light employment when there is no farm work for them to do? Lucy Larcom and the Goodsel sisters, who made national reputations in literature, "graduated" from New England cotton mills. Some statute is necessary to regulate this work so that the child's mental and physical being does not become dwarfed instead of strengthened.
The Des Moines, Ia., city council has ordered the construction of a room in the police station for the confinement of youthful offenders apart from older prisoners.
A permit has been issued for the erection of a new building for the Home for the Friendless in Milwaukee, Wis., on the east side of Van Buren street, between Wisconsin and Michigan. It will cost about $9,000.
Manual training has been established in all the ward schools of Racine, Wis. From the fourth to the eighth grades the girls will be taught sewing and the boys sloyd. It is expected that the new course of study will diminish truancy by arousing the interest of those pupils to whom book work is distasteful.
Charitable colored women of San Francisco have organized the Booker T. Washington Relief society to look after colored waifs. Temporary quarters sufficient to accommodate ten little ones have been secured, and it is expected that a permanent home for 100 children will soon be provided.
At a meeting of prominent citizens and women of Des Moines, Ia., held in the offices of Judge Post, a juvenile court for that city was indorsed. It cannot be established immediately, but Judge Post will appoint two volunteer probation officers to assist him. They will care for children whose offenses do not warrant sending them to a reform school.
The compulsory education law of Iowa is not unduly severe. It requires that children between the ages of 7 and 14 years attend school at least twelve weeks each year. Exception is made in the case of children living more than two miles from a
JUVENILE COURTS AND WHAT THEY HAVE
WHAT THE JUVENILE COURT IS. There is an intangible something in the half-famished cry of uor which they had imbibed, these children of the street prea neglected, ill-treated child that reaches down into the heart sented a problem which the child saving societies were unable to of the coldest, most unsympathetic adult, touches the chords of cope with because there was no law under which they could work sympathy that have been silent, perhaps for years, and sets them in attempting to save the little ones from their awful surroundto vibrating. The helpless wail of a poverty-stricken, sin en ings. If they were arrested and taken to jail their doom was vironed child is maddening to one interested in that branch of sealed forever. The stigma remained on their forehead as long as sociology which deals with the saving of the child. It forces him they lived. From the date of their first arrest and incarceration to delve deeper and deeper into the causes which produce such in jail with older criminals they became outlaws in every sense pitiful and shameful results, with a view to remedying them. which that word implies.
Potentially, the Juvenile Court law, as adopted by the Legisla Those interested in saving the little ones from all this fearful ture of the State of Illinois, provides the solution of the entire future which seemed to be yawning for them realized that the economic problem—the problem of ignorance, poverty and crime. fountain head of the evil, vice and crime as well as of virtue The possibilities and probabilities of the Illinois Juvenile Court and honor, was to be found in the home surroundings of the law broaden and deepen as the student of economics analyzes it child. The wisest efforts to reform abuses were thwarted by section by section, sentence by sentence. It appears to the enthu homes that were depraved. It was realized the real criminal was siast to be the very ultima thule of legislation, securing, if intel not the individual himself but in the entire social body that perligently enforced, the very greatest amount of good for the great mitted conditions to exist which could produce only criminals. est number of people, which is the standard by which legislation It was realized also that if some way could be devised by which must be judged; bringing about in time a millennial condition, the home surroundings of the child could be corrected—by as every phase of the law is developed.
which, if possible, the parents could be encouraged and educated The real meaning of the Juvenile Court law, the motives under to be more serious, cleaner both physically and mentally, but lying its adoption and the attitude taken by the court and offi failing in this, by which the child could be entirely removed from cers in administering it must be thoroughly understood in every the home and placed where proper influences would surround it, detail before an intelligent conclusion can be reached as to the three-fourths of the depravity and sin which had been cursing results already accomplished by the workings of the law, and both the individual in particular and society in general might the possible results that may be brought about in the future. be removed, and in time, as the children grew up into self
The foundation idea of the Juvenile court is so simple it seems respecting, law-abiding men and women instead of legal outanyone ought to understand it. It is, to be perfectly plain, a casts, the corrective influence would be more far-reaching in its return to paternalism. It is the acknowledgment by the State of results and the final outcome would be that all the refuse of huits relationship as the parent to every child within its borders. manity would be cast aside into a heap and society would rest This relationship was lost sight of for years and as a conse on a secure, wholesome basis. quence the utter demoralization of society was threatened. The Such a condition of affairs was dreamed of by those interchild, suffering for the sins of its natural parents, outcast, ille ested in humanity. Remembering that the state is, after all, gitimate, so to speak, when its relationship to the state the first the first great father, and has a right, in the absence of proper great parent was considered, committed some petty depredation, parental care from the natural parents, to step in and take upon was arrested and with the first arrest became a criminal with itself the work which the natural parent had proved itself unable its hand raised against every man and every man's hand raised so do, they evolved from their necessity the Juvenile Court law against it.
of the state of Illinois. The state recognized its duty towards the child only to the The state deputes to the natural parent certain duties which extent of providing prisons in which to lock it up when, as it it is unable to attend to so perfectly as the natural parent, because inevitably must, driven by the forces of evil on all sides, became nature has implanted in the heart of men a love for their offa criminal, a menace to its fellow beings and a direct charge upon spring which would seem to make them suitable guardians of the state for the period of its natural life.
their children, providing that person understands what the du-What chance was there for these poor little waifs of fortune, ties are and is inclined to attend to them. In short, the state these human derelicts, drifting, rudderless, upon the turbid appoints the natural parents as guardians over her children and stream of life? If they walked the streets, as they usually did, expects the parents to exercise the powers that have been they became steeped in the very dregs of degredation. If the arm granted them wisely and to the very best advantage of the child of the law exerted itself to the extent of forcing them to remain intrusted to their care. But the state demands as a necessity at home the conditions surrounding them were often infinitely for the wholesome and healthy growth of the child as well as for worse than they would have been had the children been allowed the protection of every other person under its jurisdiction, that to remain on the streets. What could one expect from such the parent shall bring up the child in environments and under conditions besides the result that was inevitable—the ultimate circumstances that will make it a good, law-abiding citizen. outlawry on the part of the child. The little ones did not eat Sometimes, however, where the parents themselves have lacked three times a day-nay, an entire day frequently passed without the proper care and training in their youth, they are not fitted to a morsel of food passing their little mouths. Sometimes the assume the responsibilities placed upon them by the state. Menchild had shoes to cover its feet, more often, however, the little tally and spiritually, as judged by the standard which the state feet were unprotected even in the cold of frosty winter. Often has set up, they themselves are children, lacking the traits and it had no covering for its head and no protecting woolens under training necessary to make them proper persons to have the care, neath the single tattered garment that served only to cover its custody and education of a young child. nakedness, but offered little shelter from the elements. This Naturally, it would be a difficult matter for a charitable society pallid child of fortune-ill fortune-swore like a fiend, haunted under the old conditions to step in and make full-grown men saloons and places of general ill repute, mixed in the society of and women realize their inability to care for their own offspring, thieves and people with the most vicious tendencies, bawled and it would be quite as difficult a matter to reconcile the child along the streets, shouted and fought, stole when opportunity to that same fact. The Juvenile Court law grasped at this tanoffered, and was frightened at nothing except the form of a gled situation, straightened out the threads and re-established the blue-coated policeman looming up in the distance. Weather relationship of parentage on the part of the state, and made it beaten, feverish from lack of nourishment or because of the liq possible for the state to step in, where it was informed of lack
of care on the part of the natural parent, and take upon its own shoulders the future of the little mite of humanity, with its potentiality of Christ and devil, and place the child where the divine, the Christ within it, will be brought out and intensified and the devil buried so deep that its very existence will be for. gotten.
If a natural parent should take a child of tender age, who had committed his first offense, and throw him into a cell where he would come in contact with the lowest scum of humanity, with the probability that he would become from that time on a hardened criminal because of his enforced associations with criminals, the Visitation and Aid Society would proceed at once to protect the child from its unnatural father. Standing in its relation as a parent, the state is no more justified in carrying out such a line of conduct than would be the individual, natural parent. It is morally responsible for every criminal manufactured by such enforced confinement of young children with hardened criminals. As things were, before the state took cognizance of her relationship to every child wandering her streets or living in surroundings that tended to ruin it, the main duty of legislatures was to devise punishments to fit almost every crime on or off the calendar. The fact that an ounce of prevention was cheaper and wiser than a pound of cure, especially taking into consideration the fact that the pound of cure was so small and insignificant as to be entirely lost in the vast ocean of crime which it was supposed to control, was never taken to heart by those interested in the affairs of the state. This condition of affairs was not peculiar to Illinois alone; the same apathy regarding intelligent legislation looking towards the perfecting of the character of the child has been met with in every state where an attempt has been made to secure such legislation. But large-hearted persons interested in child-saving finally roused themselves and demanded of their colleagues and of the State Legislature that some steps should be taken along this line. Thus the Juvenile Court law was born.
It is not the object of the Juvenile Court to punish the children brought before it. In fact, the entire thought of those who framed the law was to banish all thought of crime and punishment and to overcome entirely the positive evil of a jail commitment and a formal trial. Far from appearing to punish the child, it is the one thought of the Juvenile court to inquire into the home surroundings and environments of the child, and if they are found to be such as to cause the growing citizen to be not only his own worst enemy, but a menace to the public at large as well, the Juvenile court, standing for the state in the relationship of parent to the child, either removes him entirely from the surroundings that make for vice and evil, placing him in some institution or in a private home where his evil tendencies may be corrected; or, if it seems possible that through the agencies which the court may bring to bear, the home life of the child may be improved without removing it from the care and custody of its parents, the court permits them to retain control of the little one until it is proved conclusively that they are absolutely unable or unfit to care for it. It was intended by the framors of the Juvenile Court law that the court, in administering the law, should go much deeper into the study of childlife than a mere attempt at punishment for the specific small depredation considered at the trial would permit; that it should search out the primary cause of the deflection from the paths of rectitude and remove the cause of the offense. Perhaps the cause is found to lie with the parents of the child, who treat it cruelly and make the home life so unpleasant that, in sheer self-defense the child runs away. Following the natural order of things, because vice is always pictured to the eyes of a child by the vicious ones as being very beautiful, the little thing naturally runs after that which appears bright and alluring to its eyes, unprotected because there is no wise, guiding hand to turn it back into the "straight and narrow way," and no voice to warn it that the shining thing which looks so red and luscious is only a dead sea-apple that will turn to ashes in its hand. It falls as naturally as a stone falls to the ground into the company of bad children who teach it bad and vicious habits. In such a case, the child, individually--that is to say, the soul of the child-is not a criminal, nor should it be classed as one because some one older in crime coaxes it into committing some depredation which the child itself does not realize is a depradation and a violation of the laws of the state. Under such circumstances the state itself would be committing a crime to throw the youngster among criminals as a punishment for what it has wrought.
At this juncture the Juvenile court steps in, through the agencies which it was able to bring to bear, searches into the life of the child and places the blame for the overt act where it belongs—invariably on the parents themselves. It recognizes the primary cause for this temporary downfall of the child in the lack of proper parental care, and places the little one in some home or institution or under the care of some probation officer, where it will be looked after and loved, trained and advised in a way that it can understand as to what is the right and what the wrong thing for it to do, and why there is right or wrong.
Or perhaps the court finds that the parents are indigent or utterly unable, although willing and anxious, to provide for their children in a way which the welfare of the children and the public absolutely demands. In this case, also, the child is placed where it will receive proper care and training. In this latter instance it will be remarked that so far no delinquent tendencies had developed in the child. But the court, analyzing the circumstances, realized that the conditions surrounding the child were such that delinquency was almost sure to develop, and it stepped in and cared for the child before it had a chance to fall. This illustrates what is perhaps the most beautiful side of the Juvenile Court law, which shimmers in such a fascinating, kaleidoscopic mesh of tint and color as it is considered from different viewpoints. It is like a vast forest, which develops fresh and more entrancing landscape beauties as we advance closer to its heart.
There is still another phase of the law, and that is the relation of the Juvenile court to the parents of the child which has appeared before it. It stands in the light of a parent or guardian to the child—to the parent it is an elder brother, offering encouragement and helpful advice as to how the home may be improved and the home environment of the children and tho family generally sweetened and purified. While the visit of the probation officer to the home is made primarily in the interests of the particular child entrusted to his care, it really proves beneficial to the entire family, and through the family to the entire community, for one family lifted above their sordid surroundings and given a new and more healthful ambition in life will have a direct and noticeable effect for good on its neighbors.
The probation system is the cord upon which all the pearls of the Juvenile court are strung. It is the keynote of a beautiful harmony. Without it the Juvenile court could not exist. Upon the intelligence and application of the probation officer depends the successful operation of the court. The state of Illinois could not furnish institutions enough to care for all the children brought before the court. All children are not in circumstances which would warrant the court in taking them from their parents, and yet they must be followed up and their future conduct and the conduct of their parents must be inquired into. The probation system enables the court to leave the child in home environments, and provides not only some one who shall act as guardian to the child, but who shall at the same time act as teacher to the parents, educating them to a point where they are capable of themselves assuming the powers of guardianship towards their own child which the state had originally deputed to them, but which it was forced temporarily to take away from them. With the great right arm and force of the law of the state of Illinois back of him, the probation officer can go into the home and demand to know the cause of the dependency or delinquency of a child. Having discovered the cause he has the power to remove it and to build upon its ruins the foundations of a higher, better citizenship. He becomes practically a member of the family and teaches them lessons of cleanliness and decency, of truth and integrity. Threats may be necessary in some instances to enforce the learning of the lessons he teaches, but whether by threats or cajolery, by appealing to their fear of the law or by rousing the ambition that lies latent in each human soul, he teaches the lesson and transforms the entire family into inidviduals which the state need never again hesitate to own as citizens. One child in a family, which has had its soul awakened to its possibilities in the future if it will only follow the path of rectitude, has an influence that cannot be measured upon the entire family. One home cleansed and beautified, uplifted into a clearer, more healthful atmosphere of thought and action, has an influence for good upon the entire community which, like the ferment in a pan of yeast, is bound to enliven the entire mass. The perfection of charity is not to help the whining ones who demand at the hand of public bounty a crust of bread and a roof to cover their mendicant heads. The purest charity lies in looking into conditions before the cry for help becomes necessary and placing the future beggar or criminal in such environments that there will be no necessity for a cry for aid from their fellow men.
To sum up, then, the foundation idea of the Juvenile Court law in providing for the care of the dependent or delinquent child is not an idea of punishment for crime or for mendicancy, for the law does away entirely with all idea of crime or beggary as applied to a child. The work of the court is to inquire into the causes of the dependency or delinquency, to find out why the child went wrong in the first place, to remove the cause of the fall from grace, and to start the little one on the right road.