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No. 7.

APRIL, 1918.

Vol. VIII.





Ex-Lord Mayor of London; a Treasurer of the National Children's
Home and Orphanage.

It is only expressing a truism to say that the children are the greatest item of the nation's wealth. The War has given immense weight and meaning to this statement. In these terrible days of destruction of man-power the value of child-life has become immeasurably enhanced. However wealthy in material resource, however extensive in territory, the State that neglects its young life and does not fully provide for the care and education of its boys and girls enters upon a period of certain decay. Therefore, any effective society or association that exists for child welfare should have the sympathy and support of every right-minded citizen.

The Child Welfare Association represents societies which are concerned with every feature of child-life, but the conference to-day is concerned with it in its most serious and saddest form, and in its most difficult phases. "The object of this conference is the consideration of recommendations as to the required provision for the unwanted (though innocent) child, and how to give effect to those recommendations." In this difficult task all who are concerned for child welfare in these days will need all the wisdom, the insight, the care and the tact that can be summoned.

It has been said that "it is more dangerous to be a child in the

1 Substance of an Introductory Address as Chairman of a Special Conference held at the Mansion House, on February 14, to consider measures for the Welfare of the Unmarried Mother and the Illegitimate Child.

slums of London or Glasgow than to be a soldier in the trenches in Flanders." It has also been computed that during these last three years and more of war we have lost more infant children in Great Britain than men at the Front, and chiefly through preventable causes. It is great to die for England, but it is surely greater to live for England and for the world, and especially to play a worthy part when a worthier world is in view.

A Frenchman, M. Julian Flamun, has written a mordant sketch which is worthy of consideration by workers for child welfare. He depicted the German Emperor, clad in his grey cloak, "flecked with blood," bowing his helmet before the Crib. He addresses the Divine Child: "Thou art on our side, O Lord. I am Thy lieutenant Thou wilt share my triumph . Lord God of the German Armies, bless Thou the German Emperor." The Christ Child, silent, seems only to grow pale. The Kaiser prays again. He promises to place on the ruins of the world "Thy cross and my flag." Still the Child is silent, and the Kaiser with trembling voice asks: "Have I not done and suffered enough for Thee? Millions of my soldiers lie dead; the ravens are weary of their feast." At last the Christ Child softly and sorrowfully makes answer: "I would fain bless thee, but I cannot. In Belgium last winter I lost My way. I took refuge beneath a hedgerow from the icy blast. Some drunken German soldiers sprang upon Me. I had no defence but My smile and My To punish Me they drew their swords


can I bless thee without My hands, the little hands of a child which they cut off?"


That is one terrible picture; here is another of a nobler sort. A sergeant in a base camp some time ago was returning to his unit after being wounded twice. A presentiment was upon him that he would not come back, and he turned a deaf ear to those who assured him that he would. "But," he said, "I don't mind. It's going to be a better world for the kiddies afterwards.”

We must see to it as citizens that it is a better world, and that the children are better fitted to live as healthy, happy citizens in it, that the mothers, not excluding even the wronged, the unfortunate, and the misguided, have sane and reasonable consideration in all matters relating to maternity and child welfare.

We live in days of darkness and desolation, but perhaps to-day we may have the old-time vision of a period when "the old people shall live in peace and the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls

playing in the streets thereof." As John Ruskin says, “In the streets, not the gutters." Surely we have had enough of the gutters. Let us now claim the open spaces for our children. We have had enough of child stultification and infant neglect; we need to provide for child culture and child freedom. The children of to-day must have our sympathy, our care, our love.

Wakefield House,

Cheapside, E.C.1.



Magistrate of the Children's Court, Old Street, London, E.C.; Author of The State and the Child."

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OF all branches of work concerned with the welfare of children, none perhaps is of greater importance than that which deals with the care and control of the delinquent child. This importance is twofold: firstly, from the point of view of the State, and secondly, from the point of view of the child. Since the principal concern of the State is, or should be, the creation of good citizens, the greatest evil to be fought against is the creation of bad citizens, and the delinquent child is the raw material from which the worst citizens almost invariably spring. Few things have impressed me more in dealing with adult criminals than the frequency of convictions at an early age, which form the beginning of the dossier of the habitual criminal. The danger and injury done to society and the nation by the existence of such criminals is quite insufficiently realized. Socially and morally, they spread corruption broadcast around them; financially, they are an enormous burden upon the State.

All large employers of labour know that the presence in a workshop or factory of one dishonest workman will frequently cause dishonesty to become rife amongst those who had hitherto been men of excellent character. The presence of a dishonest child in a Council school may spread dishonesty throughout that school. The dishonest. child grows into the dishonest man, becoming the parent of dishonest children, who in their turn continue the evil. The notorious Jukes family in America is estimated by its biographer, R. L. Dugdale, to have cost the Government of the United States a million and a quarter dollars in hard cash alone, to say nothing of the moral corruption. which its members spread. The interest, then, of the State is clear, by all means and at all costs to ensure that the delinquent child, if any way can be found for prevention, shall not grow into the adult criminal.

But what of the delinquent child himself? In at least nine cases out of ten there is nothing inherently vicious about him. It is not his fault that he has bad or careless parents, or that he lives amongst bad surroundings, or that the streets are his only playground. Had he been born of wealthy parents he would never have found his way into


the police court at all. He would have been merely a high-spirited, mischievous boy, punished often perhaps, but never becoming a "prisoner" or a criminal." Under his present conditions it is inevitable that his wrongdoing should bring him into the Children's Court; it is the only existing form of control over him out of school hours and beyond school age. From statistics taken at Elmira, it was found that 518 per cent. of the homes were "positively bad," and only 83 per cent. "good." Even in the good homes of the working class the father has no time to look after his children, and the mother often very little. The responsibility then laid upon the Children's Courts for the care of these children is immense. That responsibility is surely not adequately discharged by ordering a boy to be birched and giving no further care or attention whatever to his case. It does not, of course, follow that boys should never be birched, but I am convinced that such a sentence should be accompanied and supplemented by probation. Unfortunately this is not at present legally possible. The alteration of the law permitting it is one of the many changes which I have ventured in my book on "The State and the Child" to advocate as desirable. The whole subject is dealt with fully there, and I have only space in this article to emphasize boldly my view that birching in a police cell has in itself practically no reformative, and very little deterrent value. The truth of the last part of this proposition will doubtless be challenged by many, but the grounds for the opinion set out in my book appear to be almost conclusive. I will only give one here, viz., that the statistics obtained at the Old Street Police Court show that 35 per cent. of boys who have been birched are subsequently recharged for new offences, this being a very much higher percentage than that for any other form of punishment.

The Role of Probation.

The circumstances and surroundings of the delinquent child being what they are, it follows in my judgment that nearly all children charged in the Juvenile Courts require some kind of after-care, whether it be that of a regular probation officer or of a voluntary agency. This truth is fully recognized in America, where as many children are put on probation in New York alone as in the whole of England and Wales.

Probation, or some form of after-care, would thus seem to be in most cases the principal solution of the problem of the delinquent

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