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Many reasons may be advanced. Much money has been spent, not always wisely or well, and much more money will be needed before the claims of the child can be said to be adequately requited. Doctors and nurses must be multiplied before we attain that personal cleanliness of the body which is so necessary for healthy citizenship. Housing conditions must be greatly improved and the landlord's penal restrictions on family life minimized. Education must be on more natural lines, the subjects less showy and diffusive and more adapted to the particular needs of each locality. The nation is now confronted with the scheme of Mr. Fisher's splendid Education Bill. The proposals appear to be drawn up in a fine spirit and with a keen sense of the supreme value of child character and capacity. The clauses, omitting important questions of administration and finance, specially affecting those among whom we work are :
8. School leaving age raised to 14 (or 15 with exemptions). 10. Compulsory Continuation School attendance (320 hours mini
mum a year) to 18. 13-15. Drastic restriction of employment of children over 12; no
employment below that age. 17. Provision (local powers) of Holiday Camps, Playing Fields,
Swimming Baths, and other facilities for recreation. 18. Medical inspection in Continuation Schools. 19. Nursery Schools (local powers) with health treatment, &c. 20. Provision, where needed, of suitable home life, enabling
certain children to reap the benefits of education. 35. Powers of prosecution by Local Authority for offences against
the principal Clause (12) of the Children Act, 1908. Some of the forty-seven clauses are bound to meet with considerable opposition. It is a good omen that the religious question is untouched, for I am bound to say, from my own personal observation, that the compromise arrived at in 1870 has worked fairly well. The chief objections to the new proposals will come, I expect, from the parents. I confess I have a good deal of sympathy with those who, in so many cases, are obliged to regard their growing children from the standpoint of wage-earners, in order to maintain the family. The State that compels longer attendance at school will have to secure living conditions for the scholar and the home. I rejoice that the recent Trade Union Congress went so far as to demand elementary school education up to 16 years of age. Once get a general conviction that the nation is in peril if it neglect a systematic and efficient education, and the difficulties attendant upon longer school-life, with its continuation course to follow, will not be found to be insurmountable.
I am hoping to see also some improvement which will inculcate the habit of thrift, for at present the amount of loose pence which even the poorest children possess, and largely waste, is not a hopeful sign for the future. The present epidemic of juvenile crime also, I trust, is ephemeral, traceable largely as I believe to the slack conditions of home life resulting from war conditions.
Hitherto the work of the philanthropist has been closely linked with that of the teacher. Will this connection be as necessary in the future as in the past ? With the removal of the taint-of pauperism from all form of physical relief, will the calls on charity continue ? These are questions that social changes thrust upon us. My answer is that an all-embracing State system of education would be still inadequate without the sympathetic human touch, the free and friendly co-operation of the unofficial with the official. It will be a sad day for the child if the outer world, the ordinary members of the community, dissociate themselves from the teachers and quench that spirit of neighbourliness which has done so much to soften the necessarily strict State routine. If we wish for a confirmation of this view we
. have only to look for a moment at that nation whose very name is held up to the execration of the civilized world. We then realize what officialdom, unsoftened by the spirit of Christian sympathy, can do with an otherwise great people. Discipline, culture, training, have produced a perfect machine, as, alas! we have found to our cruel cost; but it is everywhere recognized that the nation has lost its soul. The people seem to have become callous even to the commonest feelings of humanity.
It may not be inappropriate for me briefly to indicate to my fellowworkers in the field hitherto known as Ragged School Missions, the lines of co-operation which it may be desirable to follow in a newly constructed society when the War is at an end. Accompanying the administration of the new Education Act, we must give primary attention to the building up of the family and home life. This will necessitate an improved and sufficient housing supply, with space and convenience for the decencies of life. There must be provided increased leisure from monotonous toil, for the cultivation of the homely virtues, and opportunity to remember the Saturday night to keep it homely, and the Sabbath to keep it holy.
What future is there for the Mission School ? I cannot foresee the period when the intelligent, earnest and trained service of its voluntary teachers will not be needed in helping at every stage of young life. Especially will it be needed for the critical adolescent years. The working lads and girls in our big towns will always need, I think, the saving influence of leaders in the formation of Scout Troops and Brigades, Guilds and Leagues. These must be amplified by camps and tramps and sports, which will foster the spirit of lovalty and bring all together in one common interest of citizenship. Suitable physical exercise must be given without imparting to it any strictly military discipline. The Christian spirit and motive must permeate all our endeavours upon voluntary lines, if that desirable element of character is to be properly cultivated; and, on the other hand, the holy cause of the Gospel must be given its full chance, by the removal of every stone of stumbling which can be rolled away by combined social service and legislative action.
We have yet a long way to travel before we attain a true estimate of the supreme value of the child in the national life and as an inheritor of the Kingdom of Heaven, work it out in practice and pay the price in life and money.
The conditions which I have very imperfectly sought to lay before you constitute a powerful claim for Christian service on its behalf. If only the Spirit of God once again imprints the need upon the heart and conscience of the Churches, there will be such a quickening of the vital and spiritual forces as will lead to that righteousness in the coming generation, which alone can exalt a nation. When our sons come back from the War (which God soon grant), and our daughters are released from their war work, may they have the desire and power to help us to build a nobler city, more worthy of our race and of our religion. May they lay down their arms against the enemy of the world's peace to take up new weapons against destitution, disease and vice, the enemies of their country's enduring happiness. The destiny of the future lies in the children around us and in the yet unborn. To-day we dedicate ourselves anew to this glorious enterprise, and as we listen we seem to hear Lord Shaftesbury and his Lord say, “Fear not,' take courage, go forward, press on without haste, without rest, to the City of God."
32, John Street,
Theobalil's Road, Il'.C,
By R. A. BRAY. Chairman of the London Juvenile Advisory Committee. The word "juvenile is now generally used to define the boy or girl worker under the age of 17. Until a few years back the welfare of such juveniles received scanty attention from any public authority. A little inspection from the Home Office, a little continued education from the education authority-this, if they escaped the attention of the police court or the hospital, represented the sum total of collective effort to assist the juvenile in the passage from childhood to adult life. But of late years much attention has been directed to the juvenile. It has been recognized that many of the ills, so difficult to remove in the case of the adult, have their origin in the neglect of the youth of the country. By slow degrees that period of life is being brought under public survey
The Labour Exchange Act marked the starting-point of the new development. During the passing of the Act it was realized that boys and girls would be affected. It was recognized that machinery suited to adults was ill adapted to meet the needs of young persons. A promise was given that committees of persons with a knowledge of boys and girls should be created to assist in the management of the Exchanges. The Board of Education, who had hitherto done nothing in the matter, shortly afterwards obtained powers enabling local education authorities to spend money on the work of advising and assisting juveniles in the matter of employment. Under one or other of the two Acts committees have now been formed in the principal towns of the country. These committees, consisting as they do of persons with a special knowledge of boys and girls, took as their sphere of action not merely employment questions, but included as well the general welfare of the juvenile.
The work has developed in many ways. In order to advise a child as to suitable employment it was necessary to know his educational record (including his medical record). This was obtained through the schools. It was essential, further, to have an accurate knowledge of the various trades with the requirements, physical and mental, needed for success. Then, after the child was placed, it became desirable to keep in touch with him, in order to discover any mistake that might have been made in choosing his occupation, and to give such help as a child should have on entering industry. Thus slowly grew up a complex organization for dealing with juveniles under 17. This organization served two purposes. First, it provided such assistance and advice as were required during those years. Next, it brought under public survey and to some extent control the youthful population of the country, revealing needs that had before gone unrecognized. It was, for example, possible to study on a large scale the general effects of the various kinds of work on the workers. Facts were gathered showing the need of some drastic limitation of the hours of juvenile employment. Had it not been for the War legislation would no doubt by now have been obtained. One of the Bills under consideration of Parliament when War broke out dealt with that very matter.
The outbreak of war opened up new fields of work for such committees. They possessed the organization required to watch the effect of the new conditions on juvenile welfare. Life was made very difficult for the boy and the girl. There was a clear decrease in the opportunities for training in the workshop. There were the long . hours and the frequency of night work, whose effects, masked to some extent by the better food obtainable through a larger family income, were slowly revealed in impaired physical vigour. There was the lack of discipline in the new or enlarged factories, the high wages earned, the large demand for juvenile workers, making jobs too easy to drop and too easy to find, the absence of the father on military service, and the weakening of the club and social organizations--all these forces acting often together made not for but against the moral well-being of the boy and girl. These evils and the need of finding some remedy were revealed because the machinery was at hand to reveal them. From the recognition of these war evils came the creation of the Welfare and Health Section of the Ministry of Munitions. The work, which lay among the some 4,000 controlled or national factories, was at the start largely of an experimental character, but in process of time has developed along certain clearly defined lines.
Responsible officers, termed Welfare Officers, are appointed by the Ministry to visit systematically the factories, to inspect the conditions under which women and young persons are employed, and to report on the matter. Where necessary the Ministry make recommendations to employers as to how improvements could be effected. One of the most frequently made recommendations is that of the appointment of what is known as a Welfare Supervisor in the factory.