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ease. Physical weakness is, however, not so noticeable on the surface as the mental and moral.
A number of authorities have shown that the boys and girls who make up the industrial school population are below the normal children of the general population in height, weight, and other physical characteristics. In a very careful study of delinquent children at the Lyman School for Boys at Westboro, Mass., and at the Massachusetts State Industrial School at Lancaster, Professor George E. Dawson reached some definite conclusions. “The salient points. ....... may finally be summarized as follows:
There was a tendency to shorter statures, lighter
weight, diminished strength in muscles of the
hands, and greater sensitiveness to pain. There was a tendency towards smaller heads, broader
heads, and broader faces, the type being, in general, that of lower races or of the infantile period of our
There were more physical anomalies than are found
among normal persons, mainly in the direction of asymmetrical heads and faces, and deformed palates. There were more defects in sight and hearing, and
a greater dullness in the sense of touch, than found
among normal persons. The intellectual reactions were, in general, inferior
to the normal. More specifically this was the case in attention, memory, and association.
It is to be remembered that these conclusions hold true only in the majority of the cases, that is to say, of These conclusions do not necessarily imply that the children were "born criminals," or that they are the results of causes beyond our control. The deformities may have been brought about by the unhealthy environment in which the child was raised, and in no real sense be the badge of a criminal. Surely there is as much room for prevention here as in any other department of penology.
15A Study of Youthful Degeneracy, by George E. Dawson. Ped. Sem. vol. iv., pp. 247-48.
But as sug
Closely related to the physical causes of juvenile delinquency are those known as “mental causes”. In many cases it is extremely difficult to distinguish where one ends and the other begins. But for the sake of clearness we will here consider only those causes resulting from a lack of proper education, and undue mental excitement.
A limited knowledge of our juvenile offenders will convince anyone that a large amount of delinquency begins with truancy or vagrancy. Now, truancy itself results from many contributory causes. gested before, it is primarily the migratory instinct work- ! ing out in the child.1 All children more or less mani- i fest a tendency to break the restraints of home and school. It, however, should not prove permanent or dangerous if the child is properly guided through this stage in its development. Upon the home and our educational system devolves the duty to bridge successfully this trying period.
Naturally enough truancy results in an insufficient mental equipment. The boy must enter the ranks of unskilled labor which he already finds overcrowded. It becomes more and more difficult to make a living. He is
16See the Savagery of Boyhood, by J. H. Johnson, Pop. Sci. Mo., vol. xxxi., p. 796. 1887. Truancy as Related to the Migratory Instinct, by L. W. Kline, Ped. Sem. vol. v.
tempted severely to “make his money easy.” With the multitude of opportunities for “swiping" little things the boy is liable to take his first step in a criminal career.
Some typical cases will serve to illustrate the intimate relation between truancy, vagrancy and delinquency. The principal of the school which Rudolph, Willie and Eddie L. should attend writes that they have been “reported an indefinite number of times. Protracted and flagrant truancy. All the time absent-have been in school only a little while during last three years. These boys have been chronic truants for months. They have already been mixed up in stealing scrapes. The father promised he would send them, but they did not appear. The mother seems to shield them.” Willie M., 14 years of age, in grade B4 at school, was absent without excuse seven days in February, twelve days in March and twenty days in April. The principal writes, “This boy is more than 14 years; but was refused work by the factory inspector because he could not read.” Here is a case which illustrates another phase of the problem:
A little Polish fellow 10 years old, Chas. My....ski, “lives in an alley between 28th street and L. avenue, near T. His father is a drunken brute and has driven the boy away from home to make his own living. The father is very abusive to the family, and they say threatens all kinds of violence, even the killing of them.”
Although truancy is not so prevalent among girls, still more exists than one would suppose from the number of truant reports. The girls are better shielded, and truant officers, no doubt, more lenient in their cases. Girls are frequently kept home by their parents “to help with the work”. It is quite difficult to reach such cases. The parents are here to blame, and should be punished accordingly.
However much we may account for the cheap variety shows and five-cent detective stories on the ground that the city boy needs some mental stimulus to produce a reaction against the intense city life, it is, nevertheless, true that over-stimulation and the reaction which inevitably follows tend to weaken the boy's mental and moral nature. This is especially noticeable in undue mental excitement incurred by plays or novels presenting vice and crime in an attractive manner.
It must be admitted that even in the worst theatres plays are presented having a certain moral value. The melodramatic hero usually survives and the villain receives a just punishment. But the accessories to the play are so bad that what little moral value there is in it is obscured to the boy who is "out for a good time”.
He cannot help being contaminated by the questionable character of the actors, and the unhealthy moral atmosphere of the “peanut gallery”.
At the trial of juvenile offenders in the Police Court it is frequently brought out that such and such a boy was “hanging about the gallery entrance to Whitney's (theatre)” or that he was seen often “around the Avenue (theatre).” Two girls were brought into the police court with serious charges against them. The truant officer stated that he found them "hanging about the stage entrance to Whitney's and carrying on questionable practices with some of the men." These are cases typical of many others that might be given.
There can be no doubt that sensational newspaper reports of crime and five-cent detective stories are appreciable factors in inciting some boys to deeds of daring, and perhaps crime. The boy sees in these unwholesome stories men and women who do things. An adventurous life appeals strongly to the normal boy. He is a hero-worshiper to the very backbone, and is not very particular where his heroes come from so long as they exhibit traits of daring and strength. Thus the boy is unconsciously led to do things by suggestion which may end in a criminal career.
To anyone who has had experience with boys it is evident that sexual abuses are quite prevalent. This is a matter concerning which it is very difficult to gain any definite knowledge. From my experience with boys I should say that a fairly large percentage, at one time or another, carry on such abuses. Through ignorance of the attendant dangers the boys are led into immoral practices. It would be impossible to give any reliable statement as to its relation to juvenile delinquency, although I feel that it is a factor to be considered.
The 'use of alcoholic liquors among juveniles is so limited as hardly necessary to receive serious consideration as a direct cause of delinquency. It should be noted, however, that some boys at an early age exhibit a taste for alcohol which they endeavor to satisfy whenever possible. Case 12 in the appendix well illustrates what some few will do to obtain intoxicating liquors. It is not an uncommon sight to see a boy take a sip from a can of beer which he has brought from the saloon. But this must be regarded as a secondary factor in the problem.
On the other hand the use of tobacco, especially in the form of cigarettes, is so prevalent among a certain class of boys that it should receive much more consideration than it usually does. Physicians and judges alike affirm that habitual cigarette smoking produces in the boy marked physical defects and moral insensibility. “Cigarette fiends” who take to a criminal career offer but little hope for reform. Public sentiment should, therefore, demand that the laws against furnishing minors with tobacco be strictly enforced.
It is unnecessary to say much in this place regarding