Изображения страниц


In this section are inserted records of the progress of Child Welfare Work as carried out by various State Services dealing with Health, Education, Industry, Delinquency, Defectiveness, and other questions relating to the care and control of the young. We shall be glad to receive copies of reports and all other official publications as soon after issue as may be possible.


Every child has rights. The most precious of birthrights is a pure, wholesome, righteous parentage. But it is not given to the child to make a choice of his parents. Few parents, indeed, consider fully and faithfully the dignity and duties of creatorship and give heed to the principles governing the initiation and development, birth and progress of a new human unit. Of all the haphazard concerns of mankind conception would appear to be one of the most accidental. War and the increasing demands for effective man-power have forced into prominance all problems relating to human life and death. It has been customary in pre-war days to treat unmarried mothers as in great measure outcasts from society, and to load illegitimate children with burdens grievous to be borne. A woman who is an unmarried mother is a pathetic creature. A child who has no claim to call any man his father is heavily handicapped at the very beginning of the life struggle. Pitiful hearts in all ages have had compassion on foundlings. And yet Church and State have been content to continue to deprive children born out of wedlock of rights and privileges which by natural laws and divine commands were due to them. The laws and conventions of Great Britain in regard to the illegitimate child remain the most un-Christian and unrighteous of all so-called civilized countries. The reasons for this conservatism need not be discussed, but it is essential that the position be now considered in all its bearings. A very helpful brochure on "Norwegian Laws concerning Illegitimate Children" has just been issued by the Children's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor, Washington (Legal Series No. 1, Bureau Publication No. 31). Miss Julia C. Lathrop, the Chief of the Children's Bureau, explains that the introduction to, and translation of this valuable publication have been prepared

by Mr. Leifur Magnusson. They present the essentials of certain Norwegian statutes passed in 1915 bearing upon the rights of children born out of wedlock. These laws are notable as the first complete national recognition of the inherent right of the child to nurture, protection and education, irrespective of parentage. They also establish the responsibility of the State in ascertaining parentage, and for holding both parents equally and continuously responsible for the illegitimate child. Norway is showing the way to a more just and righteous dealing with the illegitimate child, and the States of America are clearly determined to follow in the like course. We are convinced that with the coming of legislative powers to large numbers of the women of Britain this question will speedily be forced forward, and will be recognized as one which must be considered and dealt with. We therefore believe it will be of much service to reproduce the essential portions of this valuable official publication, which has reached us from America's Children's Bureau: "The present illegitimacy law of Norway is generally recognized as a radical measure; nevertheless, the principles laid down in it are in the nature of a return to some of those recognized in the early folk law of Norway, under which the illegitimate child had a qualified right of inheritance from the father and enjoyed substantially all the legal family rights of the legitimate child. These rights of the illegitimate child were, however, wiped out about the middle of the seventeenth century and were not fully restored and enlarged until the passage of the law of 1915. The natural effect of placing the entire burden of care of the illegitimate child upon the mother was to throw most illegitimate children upon the poor-relie system, so that the first efforts of legislation, about the middle of the eighteenth century, aimed to shift the economic burden partially upon the father. This


was done at first by a few local authorities, and later by the General Government in 1763, when a royal decree was promulgated compelling contribution from the father to the extent of one-half of the amount fixed by the poor commission as necessary for the child's support up to its tenth year. Support was extended to the fifteenth year in 1821; and forced collection of contributions, garnishment of wages, and the penalty of hard labour became recognized as instruments in the enforcement of the law. special process for the adjudication of paternity was established at the same time, but any action taken for an adjudi cation was on the initiative of the mother and not of the State. No rights of succession in relation to the father were given to illegitimate children until 1915 except in so far as the father might legitimate the child. In 1884 two members of the Storting introduced personal Bills, as distinguished from Government Bills, to equalize the inheritance rights of legitimate and illegitimate children by giving the latter the right of succession in the father's line, but no action was taken. On the two Bills on the same subject introduced in 1887 action was taken to the extent of referring them to the Government. The Government, however, thought the occasion inopportune-this was in 1892-on the ground that society was not prepared to accept such reforms; but at the same time admitted that conditions in respect to illegitimate children were unsatisfactory and had been so for years. The Bill introduced in 1887 formed the basis of the Acts of 1892 (Nos. 4 and 5). By these Acts two reforms were secured: (1) Fixing the obligation on the part of the parents of an illegitimate child to contribute in proportion to their means-the parent having the larger means to contribute relatively more--and not in proportion to the minimum requirements of bare economic support for the child; and (2) giving the right of inheritance and transmission through the mother's line to a child born of adultery or incest. A Bill introduced about the same time to extend the rights of inheritance and transmission to an illegitimate child through the line of the father was voted down in the Lower House (Odelsting), 43 to 32; it was even

refused reference to the Government for report and action by a vote of 45 to 31. The outstanding events in this period are the part taken by organized labour in furthering the movement for the enlarged rights of illegitimate children and the persistent advocacy and sponsoring of the reform by Councillor of State Johan Castberg, whose name has become identified with the law. No proposals to extend the obligation of maintenance were made in the Storting until 1901; and no changes in the inheritance law were suggested until 1909. The renewed attention in the Storting given the subject of illegitimacy was the direct result of a resolution, accompanied by the draft of a Bill, passed in February, 1901, by the annual convention of the Norwegian Labor Federation. The Executive Council of the Federation presented the Bill through the Government ministry and it was reported by the Committee on Labor of the Lower House. The resolution, introduced in the convention by Representative Castberg, declared among other things, that the woman in the relations which are the basis for this law is more disadvantageously situated than the man, and that she and the child need greater protection and a more liberal and secure economic support . . . The sorrow and misfortune which result from the relations dealt with in this legislation most frequently strike women and children of the poorer classes. For these reasons, as well as for the sake of common justice and humanity, organized labour demands the reform of this legislation. The principles of reform insisted upon in the resolution were as follows: (1) It is the duty of the father to give equal support to both his legitimate and illegitimate children. (2) As regards succession, the illegitimate child should inherit in the father's line equally with a legitimate child, and should have an equal right to the father's name. (3) All expenses for the support and education of the illegitimate child should be upon the father. (4) The mother should be entitled to a contribution 'as compensation for her loss of earning capacity resulting from the pregnancy and the child's care.' (5) Contribution to the mother during pregnancy and at time of confinement should be assessed upon the father before the birth

takes place. (6) Contribution should be levied and collected without claim or demand from the mother and by the proper public authorities, who should employ process to enforce their collection. (7) More stringent penalties should be evoked for failure on the father's part to meet his obligations to the mother and the child. (8) Society should improve and make more stringent the supervision exercised over neglected children. The resolution and the draft of the law were referred to the Government, and the only action taken was to send out a questionnaire to the local authorities, county councils, courts, police judges and others to ascertain their views on the matter. A Bill to equalize inheritance rights was subsequently introduced in the 1904-5 session by representative Castberg, but no action was taken on it, although the replies to the questionnaire showed a preponderance of opinion in favour of equality of inheritance rights. While the Department of Justice had under consideration in 1906 the above proposals of Castberg it secured an investigation by the statistical office of the living conditions of illegitimate children. With the findings of that inquiry Castberg, who became head of the Department of Justice in 1908, presented a group of drafts of laws to the Storting in 1909. These Bills accepted the principles laid down in the resolutions of the Labor Federation in 1901. Discussion of these Bills was, however, delayed until the advanced session of the Storting finally prevented consideration of them; they were again privately introduced in 1910, but were rejected by the Conservatives, then in control. They were reintroduced by the Department of Justice, now under a new head, in 1912 and 1913, though in modified form. In the meantime, in 1913, the Department of Commerce, Industries, and Fisheries had been reorganized and enlarged into the Department of Social Affairs, Commerce, Industries, and Fisheries, embracing largely the functions of the labor departments and industrial commissions of our States and Federal Government, together with such powers as are exercised by charitable departments and social-insurance commissions, in addition to its other functions relating to commerce and industries. At the head of this Department

was the former Minister of Justice, Johan Castberg. Through that Department the Government introduced in 1914 almost the identical Bills of 1909. In presenting the proposed reforms to the Storting differences of opinion cropped out. The Government accepted the proposal to give equal standing before the law to legitimate and illegitimate children, but was divided on giving them equality of succession or inheritance. Five members of the Cabinet insisted only on a qualified right of inheritance from the father, and three (including Castberg) stood out for full inheritance rights as proposed in the draft Bill of the Department. In the Committee on the Judiciary in the Storting five members favoured the Department Bill and two were against it. In the proceedings in the Odelsting that feature of the majority report which granted equal rights at law to illegitimate and legitimate children was adopted by 68 to 20, and equal right to the father's name by 47 to 41; but the right to an equal inheritance from the father was denied by a vote of 49 to 37. On the other hand, the Lagting accepted the proposition of equal inheritance by 20 to 11. The Odelsting, on second consideration of the Bill, finally accepted this principle, and the law was approved by the Crown on April 10, 1915. The most radical change made by this new legislation consists in putting the burden of establishing paternity and fixing the obligation of maintenance upon the State instead of upon the mother as under the Act of 1892. The mother of an illegitimate child is required by law to report the facts to the local authorities, and the court will then summon the alleged father to answer the charges. For the first time an attempt is made to establish paternity as a biological fact, which when established carries with it all the obligations of legal paternity; failing in this, and merely establishing the fair presumption of paternity, the law puts upon the alleged father the obligation of maintenance or economic support of the mother and the child. Further changes consist in (1) requiring the economic support to accord with the means of the better situated of the parents and not with their average means; (2) extending maintenance until

the child has completed sixteen years of age instead of fifteen, and in some cases even beyond that period; (3) equalizing the burden of contribution by requiring contributions from the mother if circumstances of wealth justify that; (4) requiring the contribution of benefits to the mother for three months before confinement and also during confinement; (5) payment of special nursing expenses for nine months after birth if the child is with the mother. The law fixes certain minimum and maximum amounts for these contributions to prevent abuses in local administration; and (6) forced collection of contributions on the initiative of the State and not that of the mother as formerly. Changes in the laws of succession give full rights of inheritance and transmission to an illegitimate child in the line of the father and the father's heirs next of kin, and a child of an illegal or void marriage is granted legitimacy. The property relations of husband and wife are changed to prevent any child which may be born out of wedlock from inheriting the property of either spouse which has been brought into the marriage by the other. A change similar in intent is made in the divorce law by which the innocent party may demand the division of the community property in such a manner that the illegitimate child of the other shall not inherit the property. The grounds for divorce are also enlarged to include the birth out of wedlock of a child whose paternity can be definitely established by law, but not if merely the presumption of paternity can be established, which latter carries with it the obligation of maintenance only. The law on the rights of parents and children, July 6, 1892, is merely changed to conform to the changes made by the illegitimacy law in the corresponding rights of legitimate children. The amendment makes no change in the legal status of legitimate children. The Act on the Care and Maintenance of Children, which applies both to legitimate and illegitimate children, provides for State care and supervision for destitute mothers and children whose fathers neglect to make the contributions for their maintenance. It is based on the assumption that there will be mothers who will get no contributions because the

father has absconded or because he has no property. Such State contributions do not carry with them the stigma and loss of certain rights of citizenship attaching to poor relief, as there is no fault on the part of the mother or the child. These contributions, commonly termed maternity benefits, are payable by the iccal authorities from local taxation. The Act of April 29, 1905, closely connected with the law on the care of children, makes provision for public supervision of foster children placed out in private homes or institutions. The general administration of this series of laws is by the Department of Social Affairs, Commerce, Industries, and Fisheries (Departementet for sociale saker, handel, industri og fiskeri), which issues orders to supplement the law and acts as a central clearing house for the information of local police courts and other authorities which are directly concerned in enforcing the law. The immediate administration of the law is through the police authorities in the counties and in the lesser rural subdivisions, whose activities are in turn supervised by the amtmand of the larger political divisions. The amtmand appoints the police authorities referred to. Besides the Department of Social Affairs, the Department of Justice is concerned in the administration of the Act to the extent of court processes involved, the issue of citations or summonses, and punishing violations against certain provisions of the law, such as taking the child out of the country without leave, absconding, or failing to contribute. The Ecclesiastical Department is concerned with the registration of births. The Medical Department provides the State physicians, who act as chairmen of the local boards of health, whose duty it is to supervise all foster children and to oversee the activities of midwives and physicians and secure reports from them when attending births of illegitimates. Special advice on the medical and medicolegal aspects of problems connected with the adjudication of paternity may be sought from the State Medico-legal Com- . mission."


The Bureau of Education of the Department of the Interior, Washington,

have issued, as Bulletin No. 49, an interesting official report on "Medical Inspection of Schools in Great Britain," prepared by Dr. E. L. Roberts, Chief Medical Examiner of Public Schools, Nashville, Tenn., U.S.A. (price 15 cents). The record provides an outline of the history of the growth of medical inspection of school children, describes essentials of organization and administration, indicates the systems employed in medical examinations and in the provision of remedial measures. Particulars are given of some of the most suggestive features of the work in this country. The Report is effectively illustrated.


It is

From the Immigration Branch of the Department of the Interior of the Dominion of Canada, Ottawa, we have received a copy of the latest Report of Mr. G. Bogue Smart, the Chief Inspector of British Immigrant Children and Receiving Homes. The Report deals with the year ending March 31, 1917. stated that at least 50,000 farmers and farm labourers are on active service overseas. From 1900 to 1916, inclusive, the number of applications received for children by the various homes have numbered 358,589, and to meet this demand 32,078 children have been available. A table appears indicating that only 251 children have been emigrated by the principal agencies during 1916-17, although 28,990 applications for children have been received. It is estimated that nearly 25 per cent. of all the boys who emigrated to Canada have enlisted for the Great War. The Report is full of striking evidences of the advantages of emigration. Mr. Bogue Smart looks forward to the afterwar era, when it is anticipated that "there will be a notable increase in the number of children coming to Canada from Great Britain," although this opinion is qualified by the cautious statement : "This may, of course, be dependent to some extent on the industrial conditions of the Motherland."

The President of the Board of Education has recently stated in Parliament that in 1917 the following thirty-nine local education authorities in England and Wales did not submit schemes for sanction by the Board of Education under Section 12 (1) (b) of the Education (Administrative Provisions) Act, 1907 for

medical treatment of school children : Isle of Ely, Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Middlesex, Soke of Peterborough, Staffordshire, Suffolk (East), Sussex (East), York (North Riding), Carmarthenshire, Canterbury, Dudley, Gateshead, Great Yarmouth, Rotherham, Barnstaple, Berwick-on-Tweed, Congleton, Glossop, Hornsey, Kingston-on-Thames, Morecambe, Mossley, Ossett, Penzance, Pontefract, Pudsey, Royal Leamington Spa, Stalybridge, Sutton Coldfield, Carmarthen, Llanelly, Coseley, Edmonton, Farnworth, Felling, Ince-in-Makerfield, Oldbury, Spenborough. In 1916 the number of such defaulting authorities was fortythree. It is not to be assumed that all these authorities, while themselves incurring no expenditure on treatment, make no arrangements which secure or aim at securing the treatment of defects by private practitioners or voluntary organizations.

The Registrar-General has arranged for the supply to medical officers of health for 1918, and subsequent years, a statement of the number of deaths under one year of age in each sanitary area classiThis hed by legitimacy as well as sex. information is in addition to the statistical returns already supplied to medical officers of health by the RegistrarGeneral; it is hoped that these data will assist investigations into legitimacy of birth in relation to infant mortality.

Sir George Newman, K.C.B., M.D., Chief Medical Officer of the Board of Education, has issued a statesmanlike Memorandum [Cd. 9124], which will have far-reaching results. It is entitled "Some Notes on Medical Education in England." We hope to refer to it in our next issue.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »