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Can the institution equip the girl for normal, social relationships? Not if it damns by classification and nomenclature. Dickens' character who continually referred to "him that shall be nameless" had the right idea. One perplexed child came to me and said, "Dr. Smith, I just want to ask one question, Am I incorrigible or delinquent?" Down in Texas we still have homes for dependent and neglected children and colonies for the feebleminded, with their cognomens all spread out on the letterheads and painted on the automobiles which take the children to the circus. One lusty "dependent and neglected child" had the courage to protest, and was promptly told, without mincing matters, "Who are you to protest? You are dependent and neglected, whether you like it or not." The state is not always a tactful, gentle parent when in loco parentis.
Can the institution equip the girl for normal, social relationships? Not if the girls are expected to be inarticulate. For example, a man whose opinion I value most highly wrote me that the action on my part of permitting my girls to protest against the use of mechanical restraints which would so mar their happiness and their outlook was unfortunate; that "inmates of such an institution should not be allowed to express an opinion." I cannot agree with my friend. While I am no hobbyist on the subject of what is known as self-government in the institution for delinquents, as I feel that it is often artificial, I do absolutely believe in self-expression. At the Girls' Training School at Gainesville we have for eight years conducted, every Sunday afternoon, what amounts to an open forum. There is no curb whatever put on the questions which the girls are permitted to ask. Every question is read aloud and answered. A framed notice is kept on our bulletin board, giving any girl permission, at any time, to send a sealed, uncensored letter to the board of control. This notice has been up for months, but only one girl has ever taken advantage of the permission.
Can the institution equip the girl for normal, social relationships? Not if it is afraid. Institutional management must be emancipated from fears-fears✓ of criticism, fears of the public, fears of losing the job, fears of politics. The institutional staff, with its ear to the ground, is apt to miss the heart cries of its girls. The institution must not be socially isolated. An institution should have no secrets. Everything should be wide open, from the books to the discipline rooms. The right kind of publicity is most wholesome. Nor must the institution teach its girls to be afraid. Public opinion must be educated and our girls must suffer while the public is learning, but the longer we teach our girls that under no circumstances must they let it be known that they have been in a training school, the longer do we put off the day the public will accept them on their merits.
Can the institution equip the girl for normal, social relationships? Not if it✔ is lacking in patience. Down in Texas we prevent, by statute, the "swabbing" of oil wells. We retain 50 per cent of the production capacity of the well. But one of the greatest causes of failures with girls is our attempt to hurry up mat
ters. We do this and that to the girl, then we justify ourselves by saying "we have given her a chance, and she wouldn't take it." We rationalize about the "good of the rest of the school," and make a summary disposal of a difficult case. In our part of the country they say that there have been three historical eras, characterized by, first, the passing of the Buffalo; second, the passing of the Indian; and third, the passing of the buck. This is all too true of institutions. We must bring to a child the heart of a child. Children cannot live by bread alone, nor do shining institutional floors and windows compensate for lusterless eyes and hopeless mouths. The "shining morning face" is even more necessary and should be more expected in the institution than elsewhere. Official dignity frequently befogs the institutional atmosphere. Most of it could be dispensed with to advantage.
Can the institution equip the girl for normal, social relationships? Not if it makes an obsession of economy. Business management is indispensable, extravagance is not to be condoned, but such matters should be considered only on the basis of their relative importance. Too many people, in their attitude toward institutions for children, are like the brother in the amen corner in the negro church. A new preacher was trying to arouse a spirit of enthusiasm in his flock. "Brethren," he said, "this church, ordained of God, has got a mission to fulfil, and Brethren, from what I hears, this here church has been a laying down on the job. Brethren, lets make her get up and walk." A brother in the amen corner shouted in approval, "Let her walk, Parson, let her walk." The preacher continued, "Oh Brethren, this here church can walk, but if this here church, ordained of God fulfils her mission, she gotta run." Again the brother in the amen corner cried, "Let her run, Parson, let her run." Spurred on to more grandiloquent heights, the preacher shouted, "Brethren, this here church, ordained of God, can walk, but halleluiah, this here church has got to fly." Instantly came the answer from the amen corner, "Let her fly, Parson, let her fly." "Brethren," responded the preacher, "If this here church, ordained of God, is going to fly, we got to take up a collection and raise enough money to pay the preacher and to build a new church." From the amen corner and the congregation came the universal wail, "Jes' let her walk, Parson, jes' let her walk." ✔ It costs dollars and cents to re-educate a delinquent, but in actual money it costs more not to do it properly, and the real price of human wretchedness can \ never be estimated. The state should not expect the training school to contribute materially to its own support any more than any other junior school should be supported by the students. At the same time the girls should not be pauperized. Undoubtedly an effort should be made in every case to make the parents of the girl assist in their daughter's support while she is in the institution. This arrangement should be made by the court at the time of commitment. During the girl's stay in the institution she should be given enough work for the general welfare of the institution to enable her to feel that she is holding up her
end and is really entitled, through her labor, to "these beans and old state clothes."
Can the institution equip a girl for normal, social relationships? Not if any✓ effort is left unmade to correct every physical defect from flat feet to myopia. The fight on the outside is hard enough at best without sending back into the conflict the young soldier who should be hospitalized. The laws of mental hygiene should be the code of procedure.
The institution is apt to fail completely if it emphasizes rules and regula-✔ tions, order and system, uniforms and bells, rather than resourceful individual treatment and the pursuit of happiness. The system that is too often found in institutions has for its object the convenience of the staff, not the welfare of the children.
The institution must not preclude the possibility of escapes. "We only save that which we set free," said a Chinese philosopher thousands of years ago, but our American authorities have not yet learned it, and last year down in Texas they wanted to wall us in to prevent runaways. We protested. Our girls got out an extra of their monthly periodical known as the Happy Dump Herald and, quoting from their columns, is the following profound observation: "We need a will, not a wall," and ending up with the pathetic parody of the Mother Goose rhyme, "Humpty Dumpty may have had a great fall, but Humpty Dumpty don't need a wall." The protest against the wall became state-wide, and the girls won because the Texas people realized the importance of the spirit that giveth life rather than the restraint that killeth.
We cannot equip the girl for normal, social relationships if we make use√ of mechanical restraints, with the exception of the same type of restraints that are used for psychopathic cases in the best hospitals for the insane, namely: door panels have to be reinforced for a few cases, and some windows have to be guarded. But the purpose of such methods should be plainly protection, not punishment. There is no place in the training school for the lash, the handcuff,✓ the strait-jacket.
Can the institution equip the girl for normal, social relationships? Not if it is patronizing. When in the name of common sense and human economy will we cease pulling out the Tremolo stop on the organ of life when we play for unfortunates and instead, once and for all, pull out the stop marked "Vox Humana"! That a bunch of girls should have staged a "cussin' bee" while a missionary society was giving them a treat-and incidentally improving the occasion by pious platitudes-should not be surprising, nor should the girls be considered young ingrates. I once had occasion to thank God for such a demonstration in my school. When the shocked official reported it to me, I said to myself, "Thank Heavens! they still live."
The greatest concern of the institution is to confirm, by its methods, an incidental delinquency into a social attitude. I have one stock in trade, prayer,
which I present on all occasions to the Almighty. It goes like this: "Oh Lord, this institution is the only thing in Texas that is supported by the state for the good of the delinquent girl. Oh Lord, don't let it do any harm, Amen." Institutions do do harm, and do harm in exactly the proportion of the use of mass methods, mechanical restraint, invariable routine, to individual handling of ✓each case. The school must not make use of inelastic educational methods. The open mind and sane experimentation are absolutely essential. There may be chemical and electrical experts; there are no children's experts!
We must include in our program every possible wholesome child activity. Girls should not be made to feel that they are out of the world, but rather that new worlds have been opened up for them.
We dare not penalize an act in the institution which on the outside would not be given a second thought. We let our girls whistle! Failure in future adaptation is certain if impossible standards are set up and mountains made out of mole hills.
Can the institution equip the girl for normal, social relationships? Not if it disregards the girl's family ties. The love needs of a child are more important than its material needs, and far more neglected. A girl needs to love a mother even though that mother be unworthy. We have no more right to declare that a prostitute is of no salvage value, and that the love that she has for her child is to be ignored, than we have to disregard any of the other natural laws made by One far wiser than we are. It is not according with the facts to say that adults cannot be changed. One has only to read such a book as Begbies Twice-Born Men to realize the inaccuracy of such a statement. We need family case workers as part of the staff of the girls' training schools.
We must not undervalue the importance of memories. If, in after days, the girl thinks back on her institutional career with a shudder or a shrug, that institution is a failure, no matter how well that girl can scrub a floor, sew a seam, or bake a loaf.
Can the institution equip the girl for normal, social relationships? It can, and if it does not, the reasons are practical and remediable. The situation is full of hope if only we would realize the eternal significance of the advice of Paul: "Brethren, if a person be overtaken in fault, ye, who are spiritually minded, restore such a one in the spirit of gentleness, looking unto thyself lest thou also be tempted." The slave-driver's whip in institutions for children has given place to the shepherd's crook, but in the institution of the future, the shepherd's crook indicative of blind authority, will give place to the orchestral conductor's baton as a symbol. Children will respond to its guidance only because they themselves desire harmony; because they have learned that there is for them "music which is the gladness of the world."
WHAT IS THE TEST OF SUCCESS?
Miriam Van Waters, Referee, Juvenile Court, Los Angeles
In considering institutions so much depends on point of view. Aristotle thought that our miseries are due to defects in human nature; Plato, to defects in our institutions. With Emerson we may view an institution as a lengthened shadow of a great man, or we may say with Kropatkin: "Men are everywhere better than the institutions they have built around them."
Probably nothing is easier to achieve than the running of a model institution. But it is hard to make the institution run if the "inmates" are treated as human beings. If the individual is regarded first, if his present happiness and progress, his ultimate well-being, are considered the goals, then it is exceedingly ✔difficult to run an institution. There is a natural conflict between system, order, authority, and organization and the complex needs and expression of human individuals, particularly young ones.
Today we are speaking of institutions for young delinquent girls. No one knows more about this than Dr. Carrie Weaver Smith. It is her kind of institution that must be considered if we speak in the modern terms of child welfare.
The goals of such a successful institution are derived from the essential ✰ needs of the adolescent; sound, vigorous health, this involves not only a good medical program and an inspired department of physical education but a staff interested in health and joy as youth's most precious assets; a modern school with teachers at least as well trained as in public schools outside; a vocational equipment which gives fascinating glimpses into the various industrial and commercial possibilities; a task, or project for the individual girl so that she will gain self-confidence and build a legitimate success attitude. Possibly this is the most important goal of all. It is the completion of an individualized task which brings to the girl that sense of well being-of rested nerves-which she so much craves, and for lack of which she becomes, under mishandling, so restless. The successful institution develops team play and furnishes opportunity for learning to live happily in groups, with some competition but not too much between groups. Above all the institution must furnish some leisure. "Children, like soldiers, must have periods off duty," remarked a wise European educator. Strictly speaking, children have no leisure. They are tremendously busy about their own affairs. The important thing is to surround the child with enough space and time for choices. What is there to do around the place in "spare time"? What the girl does of her own choice in her spare time furnishes the clue to her later success or failure. Finally, the institution must give ample scope to forming social relationships, within the school and the outside community.
The institution which follows these goals can never run smoothly, but in so far as it does follow them it is like life, and the girl who "makes good" in such an institution is likely to make a fortunate adjustment outside.
What is the test of success? Betty, aged nine, had been in seven boarding