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dinner is not exactly a criminal, and if our people only drank at meal times we should be a sober nation. On the other hand, despite the common saying that you cannot make people sober by Act of Parliament, the war has shown that curtailment of facilities has had a very marked effect in decreasing drunkenness, and it is to be hoped that we shall never return to pre-war facilities. Education must always be the great means of promoting temperance. The education of the working classes now for the most part ends at 13, at the age when the education of the middle classes begins. When education has beon levelled up the rising generation will want more intellectual pleasures, and the amusement of standing at a bar drinking in the evenings will be less frequently indulged in. One would like to see
stand-up” drinking bars replaced by “sit-down” restaurants as on the Continent.
In addition to mental deficiency and alcoholism, we want to be quite sure that the parents are free from syphilis and active tuberculosis. The best treatment is now available for venereal diseases, without charge and under conditions of secrecy, all over the country, and explicit instructions are given to all patients so that they may avoid the risk of transmitting the disease to anyone else. Ignorance is, therefore, no longer an excuse, and the syphilitic who marries without the permission of his doctor ought to be subject to a very heavy penalty, and his unfortunate victim ought to have power to claim damages and a divorce.
We hope each family will, in the not far distant future, have a medical attendant, either by an extension of panel practice or by some other system of medical service. Is it possible for the parents to insist upon a medical certificate from such family medical attendant for each party prior to marriage? As regards tuberculosis, we should do what we can to discourage persons who have been affected by tuberculosis from marrying until there is reasonable security that the disease has been actually arrested. Again, there is no excuse for ignorance, as a reliable opinion can be obtained without charge through a tuberculosis dispensary.
The Founding of Healthy Homes. Owing to the stoppage of building operations there is a great scarcity of houses and much overcrowding. Many of the existing houses are unsatisfactory. Thousands of houses of a higher standard are needed. The minimum requirements may be summarized as follows:
(1) Each dwelling room must be well lit and ventilated.
(2) Adequate sleeping accommodation is to be provided for each member of the family without overcrowding and with due regard to decency:
(3) A living room (with not too many doors !), which may also be the kitchen, in which children and adults can read in comfort is essential for every home.
(+) Sink and water supply inside the house.
If the above conditions are fulfilled, and the sanitary authorities remove the refuse regularly and scavenge the street efficiently, it rests with the housewife to see that the house becomes a healthy home by keeping it clean and opening the windows to let in fresh air. I do not see how a flat, unless it be on the ground floor, or have a yard on its own level, can be a healthy home for babies and little children. The epoch-making discovery that a baby can be put outside in its pram instead of being wheeled about is of no use to the mother unless she can overlook the baby in the yard while she is at work in the living room.
Now is the time to decide as to the types of houses to be erected when building is resumed after the war. Housewives are being consulted as they never have been before. Why not train women architects? In any event we must see to it that a scheme is put in hand with the support of the Government and the local authorities which will secure a real home for each family.
The Evolution of Efficient Mothers.
A thorough training in cooking, housework, laundry work, and needlework leads up naturally to mothercraft. Few girls get such a training at present. In the old days girls were apprenticed to their mothers in such subjects. Nowadays they get a smattering of them before leaving school at 13 or 14 to go to work in an office, a shop, or a factory, where they soon forget what they have learned, and are probably not in much of a position to run a house when they marry. When the school age is raised and the period of education further extended by continuation classes, a girl will be able to start her married life with the feeling that she knows something about her job. After the war we shall have to produce more as a nation in order to pay our way, and women will be required for work of national importance. The superfluity of domestic servants will disappear. Hence fewer women will learn housewifery through domestic service. On the other hand, the middle-class woman will have to become more efficient as a housewife to her own great gain. All this will help to put housewifery on a new footing. Many of the hopeless slatterns with neglected homes and families that we come across have developed from well-intentioned girls who never learned how to manage a house, and who, as the babies came and the work increased, have simply let things slide, and perhaps taken to drink at the finish. Efficient housewives are more important than bricks and mortar in the making of healthy homes.
I suppose every town has its proportion of dirty, careless tenants and families which have developed under the present system. They are a great difficulty, because you cannot expect children brought up in such homes to be much better than their parents or to grow up with any desire for a really good home. It would pay, in the long run, to remove the children from these hopeless parents, as it is from such families that Poor Law institutions, hospitals, reformatories, prisons, and asylums are filled. The home is the place for little children. Communal nurseries, communal kitchens, and nursery schools meet occasional and particular needs, but must never be allowed to obscure the real issue, that for the future of the race we must have well-educated mothers and real homes.
Child Welfare and a Reasonable Income. L’nfortunately the mother has no income—that is to say, she has no legal claim to a reasonable proportion of her husband's earnings for the maintenance of herself and her children. Having regard to pre-war standards, if a man earned £3 a week and gave his wife tii on which to keep the house going and maintain the family, including, say, four children, and chose to spend the remaining 62 a week on his own pleasures, the law could not touch him. This state of things ought to be altered, and it behoves every citizen to do his best to see that it is altered. As regards child welfare, I believe the money question is the most important of all. It is nonsense to talk about child welfare and education of mothers if the mothers have not sufficient money to feed and maintain their children in a proper manner. Child poverty may, to a large extent, be divided into four classes :
(1) The children of widows and disabled breadwinners.
The first class is no doubt humanely dealt with by progressive Boards of Guardians, such as we have in Sheffield, but it is considered a disgrace by some people to have to apply to the Guardians, and a good deal of want is often endured before the application is made. It is impossible for a working man to make provision so that his wife and children can “carry on " if he is cut off prematurely or permanently disabled. Let us take an example. A woman well able to earn her own living marries a man who is an exemplary husband, and they have six children. The husband dies from pneumonia when the eldest child is 12. But for her children the mother could again earn her own living. She has done nothing to merit any disgrace. She ought to receive an honourable allowance, free from the taint of pauperism or charity, to enable her to maintain a home for her children until they are started in life. This is where the American system of child pensions, advocated by Judge Neill, would come in.
The second class might also be dealt with by a system of child pensions. Perhaps when there are more than four children in the family under the school-leaving age simultaneously, an adequate maintenance allowance for each child exceeding the number of four would meet such cases. It is mathematically impossible for a man and his wife and six children below 14 to be adequately maintained on a labourer's wages. Even with the greatest thrift the children must be underfed, insufficiently clad, and improperly housed. Yet there are many such families. If we, as a nation, are in earnest in this crusade, we shall see to it that the children in a large family are adequately maintained. It is economically impossible to fix a living wage which is suitable alike for a single man, a single woman, a man and his wife and three children, and a man and his wife and six or eight children. The State must come to the rescue and recognize that a woman who is bringing up a large family well is doing good work. The dignity of motherhood demands that any assistance given by the State must be free from the taint of pauperism or patronizing charity. Pre-natal influences count for something. The advent of a new-comer in a normally prosperous family is hailed with joy. Can it be so if the parents already have all they can do to make both ends meet, and know that one more mouth to fill will mean their sinking below the
poverty line? Is it remarkable if the woman in such circumstances has recourse to dangerous operations or drugs which may cost her her life?
The third class can be partially met by a stricter enforcement of the Children Act and by prosecuting the father for neglect. More use might be made of the Children Act. It may not be generally known that “any person who in the opinion of the Justices is acting in the interests of a child ” which is being neglected may get a warrant for its removal to a place of safety and take proceedings against the person guilty of neglect. Unnecessary delay and suffering to the ild is often caused by the erroneous impression that the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children is the only body which has power to act.
Illegitimate children have a much worse time now than they had in the Middle Ages. The death-rate amongst them is twice that of the legitimate children. Our treatment of illegitimate children is not only a disgrace to Christianity, but is economically unsound. History teaches us that it would pay us to look after them better. One could mention many men of illegitimate birth who have made their mark. Among noteworthy examples are William the Conqueror, Leonardo da Vinci, Pizarro, and Erasmus. Every citizen should support the scheme of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children for giving the protection of the law to illegitimate children and their mothers. It is also to be hoped that the National Council which is now dealing with this matter may effect good results.
Our present methods for helping the efficient mother in time of stress are very imperfect, but if the mother's income were sufficient it would be more satisfactory for her to engage her own“ helps.” On several occasions my Department has been faced with the special difficulty caused by there being no provision for the young family on the breakdown in health of both parents. This has occurred when the father has been a consumptive and the mother has also become ill. The Guardians are not supposed to use the workhouse as a boardinghouse for such children if they are not actually destitute.
The Supply of an Efficient Medical Service. The mother has not yet got an efficient medical service at her disposal for herself and her children, and the provision of this is one of the after-war problems which the citizens have to settle. We need a system by which there will be secured a family doctor for each family. The relations of the family doctor to the special institutions, such as