Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

by carrying parcels and minding horses in the street. They recognized no parental control, and were encouraged in their evil actions by their parents, whose chief concern was the acquisition of the few coppers which they brought home and for which their young lives were practically sold. Home conditions being so bad they were sent to a reformatory school.

Two boys, 11 and 15 years of age, broke into a tradesman's shop, where they consumed food to their heart's desire. After this they considerably damaged the interior of the shop. They then emptied the till of its contents, the elder boy taking the white money (silver), the younger one the coppers. When outside the shop they met more companions, and on relating their deeds the younger one saw that he had not had an equal share of the spoil and a quarrel commenced. The arrival of a policeman on the scene resulted in both boys being locked up. The elder one was placed on probation and the younger one discharged. The psychological study of this case is full of interest. The boys had broken into the premises and robbed another, yet when the elder failed to share evenly the proceeds of the robbery, there was a distinct injury inflicted upon the younger. According to the working of their minds, the tradesman and his losses formed no part of the consideration. There is a familiar saying, “When thieves fall out honest men come by their own."

Two little girls, aged 8 and 9, very bright-looking and intelligent children, stole £u 175. 6d. They ran away from home and took the train to Blackpool. Here they purchased new clothing and clogs, and threw away their old things. They then bought a lot of sweets and went to places of entertainment, cinemas, &c. Later they entered a restaurant and ordered dinner, and at the conclusion of their repast, in their simplicity, they astounded the restaurant proprietor by ordering another dinner. He, cautious man, wanted the money for the first dinner, and the elder of the two children produced a small Dorothy bag hanging by her side, and opening the same displayed to his astonished gaze several pounds in gold. The good man, probably not having seen gold since the commencement of the War, had his suspicions aroused, and immediately sent for the police, who arrived on the scene, and the little girls were detained. They were brought back to Manchester and taken before the magistrates, and handed over to their parents. On being questioned why they had stolen the money, they both stated that they wanted to find the place in Blackpool where they could do the same as girls did in the pictures. The moving film

[ocr errors]

had impressed something on the minds of these little ones which their childish capacity could neither receive nor perceive. The parents, however, who lost some of their money had it forcibly brought home to them.

A short time ago a great deal of petty and vexatious annoyance was caused to the residents of certain districts of Manchester by a number of boys who used to meet at an ice-cream vendor's shop and plan robberies. They were known as the Black Hand

gang They appointed a leader, who "swore them in to be faithful to the cause.' These boys accounted for forty cases of housebreaking, &c., but the chief factor in their depredations was the damage they did to property. In several houses they broke open the gas meter, destroyed the fittings, and in three cases set fire to the house, thus necessitating the turning out of the fire brigade. One Saturday afternoon the boys broke into a provision warehouse and remained in the place for two. days. During this period they regularly took their turn at sleeping, cooking food, posting sentries, and destroying as much of the goods. as they possibly could. The sentry was always armed with a pistol to shoot the policeman on the beat. This gang met at other times at the top of an old broken-down building. At one of their meetings. they resolved to brain the detective officer responsible for looking up some of its members. None of them would undertake the task. The ringleaders of the gang were caught and sent to reformatory and industrial schools, and with the removal of these leading spirits the whole of the remainder have since given no trouble.

In another case a number of boys banded together and called themselves “ The Red Hand Gang.” They broke into a number of houses and did much damage. To instance the wanton character of their excursions, it may be noted that they tore curtains to pieces, cut up tablecloths, and in one case, where the householder was a bird fancier, put linnets, larks and canaries into the parrot cage to watch them fight, and then placed the cage and birds up the chimney. The same boys broke into a warehouse, hit the yard dog on the top of the head, and dragged it into the office, so that no one should know they were in residence. This same gang broke into a baker's shop and stole the bread left in the shop. They then stole a handcart in the neighbourhood and hawked the bread in the district. The gang was broken up by the ringleaders being caught and sent to industrial schools. The very boldness of their escapades resulted in their capture.

The sea has always a great fascination for boys who reside inland, and boys try to join the Navy. I know of a case where a boy ran away three times to the North of Scotland, the South of England, and South-West of England in order to join the Navy, costing his parents, who were poor people, over £2 each journey to bring him back. Through some slight defect he was ineligible for marine service: Surely a boy who showed such a passion for the sea ought to be given some position on a ship in order to satisfy his craving, which may well be accounted a perfectly legitimate one.

A boy, aged 12, was recently charged with stealing a horse and lorry. Can it be said that this boy could seriously negotiate the sale of the horse, &c., to the value of over 650? I do not think he could. The boy was bound over and put on probation for twelve months. The boy had no intention of stealing, and did not realize what he was doing when he drove the horse away. This was mere exuberance of spirits, which required a proper outlet. In the first place, he should have been at school and engaged upon some subject interesting to himself and of ultimate benefit to others.

Two boys, both very young, were charged with stealing a bicycle from the street. They rode it round Manchester streets for the remainder of the day, and at night placed it in a yard belonging to the people of the elder boy. Next day the police apprehended both boys for stealing the machine. Both boys had been before the court on a previous occasion. The mother of the elder boy was out working all day. The mother of the younger boy was at home. The father of the elder had been in France since 1914. The father of the younger is a labourer at home. No proper supervision could possibly be given to these children, and they purloined the bicycle purely to while away time and when they should have been at school, attendance at which they admitted they did not like. These boys did not try to dispose of the bicycle. It was purely a case of utter mischievousness, energies utilized in the wrong direction for want of better supervision. Both these boys are healthy and of strong constitution and good intelligence. The case was one of misapplied energy, concurrent with want of parental supervision and home interest in the child. Stealing a bicycle was the charge against them, but ethically there is a wide difference between immoral stealing and anti-social mischievousness.

The number of delinquent girls brought to the Manchester City police-courts is considerably smaller than the number of boys. Girls do not band themselves together as boys for the purpose of committing robberies. More frequently they work in pairs, and they often show much cunning and considerable misapplied ingenuity and energy in their depredations. It is strange, but true, that although we devote much time, money and endeavour to the improvement of the erring boy, we do not usually consider the needs of the girls to the same extent. In the Girl Guides Movement we have an organization peculiarly attractive to girls, and which deserves to become a vast national organization for girl welfare.

A short time ago two special constables were working their night beat in a very secluded and quiet part of Manchester City. In a large doorway at the hour of 1.20 a.m. they were surprised to find two young girls huddled together fast asleep. They aroused them, and ascertained that they were children from a country district, who had come to Manchester the day before to see what it was like. They had . spent their money and missed their train home, and having neither friends nor shelter they became frightened and tired, and sought the friendly shelter of this secluded doorway. The police took them to a house, where they were provided for, and restored to their friends the next day. Cases of homeless wanderers such as this are not frequent in these days.

Recently the young wife of a soldier from overseas called at a police-station, and stated that she had come to Manchester to see her husband's relations (he being in France), but could not remember the name of the firm of sugar boilers by whom her husband's relatives were employed, or the street where these relations resided. She had exhausted her means in trying to find the firm, and was then practically destitute. She was invited to sit down and partake of some refreshment. A telephone inquiry to other divisions failed to elicit any knowledge of a large firm of sugar boilers. It was then suggested to her that the firm might be jam boilers, which revived her memory, and she said they were and gave the name. As it was too late to make inquiries from the firm for the address of the man the Directory was searched, and in a street adjacent to the works the name was found of a person described as a jam boiler. The woman was put into a cab and sent with a constable to the address, which turned out to be the correct one. Friends of the woman afterwards called at the policestation and thanked the officer for his thoughtful kindness.

These two examples are taken from among many which could be mentioned, and they indicate clearly that it is dangerous in the extreme for persons of tender age, and even for those of wiser years,

to visit large towns without either friends or relatives to whom they may reasonably look for protection. Let me here urge the necessity for the suppression of a pernicious form of temptation to which girls are liable. There are individuals who haunt the districts where girls are employed in large numbers, and who sell to them at most exorbitant prices cheap jewellery on the deferred payment scheme. Girls may naturally be expected to have a little vanity and a desire for some adornment. The evil of the business is that the purchase of one thing leads to another. As the bill mounts up so the weekly sum for the girl decreases, and in some form or another it is made up. This kind of transaction is the cause of domestic tragedies.

The Causation of Juvenile Delinquency. Children are not born into the world as little criminals, however evil their surroundings may be. The designation juvenile criminal should not be applied to any child.

I have known cases of boys before the court who have purposely committed offences to emulate the deeds of one of their companions who had been sent to a reformatory or industrial school. For what object? So strong has been the hold of the boy on the others that they have committed robberies with no other intention than that of joining their late leader at the reformatory school.

Cases have occurred to my knowledge where a child arrested for some offence had achieved no “honour' in its own circle of companions by the cautionary admonition of a magistrate. Rather must the offender have received a few strokes with the birch to be received as a “ hero" or as, in a large number of instances, the counterpart of some worthless “hero," of a dozen desperate situations in a worthless novelette.

To give a few strokes for some paltry offence to some boys fixes them as convicted persons, convicted criminals, the proud holder of a "title in their own circles. This making of a “hero ” into a leader spurs boon companions to obtain similar honours by emulating his deeds. We should deprive children of the opportunities for the establishment of a mock heroism by appearing before the magistrate. “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” and a bor's self-esteem commonly rises as he successfully accomplishes his ends either for good or evil and receives the plaudits of his companions.

Many boys and gangs of bors that have passed through my hands in bygone day's, on their own admission have become leaders of the

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »