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Children's Mission, and also the Temporary Home in Chardon
When the Charitable Committee of the legislature last visited Industrial School, and we listened to the recitation and singing the girls, the thought was forced upon us, "Why should not the rld outside be safe for these girls, a large majority of them so elligent, and eager, and capable."
Prohibitory laws, police courts, even penalties are but blunt 1 ineffectual weapons for their protection; public opinion alone a bring back the stern scorn of wicked self-indulgence so vividly scribed in the stories of the early days of Massachusetts.
DEBATE ON PLACING OUT CHILDREN.
The following discussion, although it took place on Saturday, is inted in connection with the papers of Friday, because it relates the same general subject.
The PRESIDENT: I see a lady in this audience (Mrs. C. R. Low1) to whom we owe a vote of thanks, but I fear she would not cept it, and so I will compromise by asking her to speak on this bject.
Mrs. LOWELL: I do not think I can say anything which would e instructive to the Conference. In regard to the subject of lacing pauper children directly in families, I believe that to be he ideal system; but I fear that it would not be possible to carry t out all over the country, owing to the difficulty of obtaining horough and satisfactory supervision. I think you can do things n Massachusetts which we cannot do in other States, because you have more people who will give their time to such work. Of course f you can secure a sufficient number of visitors who will give their time, it is practicable, but I fear that the system in any other State would not be successful. I believe that the small farm school, like that at West Newton, where children can be kept and trained for one or two years, has many practical advantages, because it is easier to find one couple who are competent to take care of thirty children, than it is to find thirty couples who are competent to take care of one child each, and the work of supervising thirty children in such an institution is much less difficult than if the children were scattered about in different homes. While I admire the perfection of the system as it is carried out in Hampden county, I am afraid that we in New York cannot look
for anything of the kind yet. We must be content if we can convince people of the advantages of small institutions.
Mrs. LEONARD: All children are placed in institutions temporarily. The intention in doing this is afterwards to place them in families. The institution life must necessarily be short. If you place a child of self-supporting age in any family, you must exercise much watchfulness. I was formerly a manager of the Children's Home in Springfield. The watching and the following up of the children sent out from that institution was, for the time, admirably done. But now it is not so well done by reason of the few people engaged in it. The children are placed in families, and do not always receive proper treatment. It all comes down to the same thing, eternal vigilance is the price not only of liberty, but the security of all dependent persons. As I sat here in this Conference yesterday, and listened to the glorification of reformatory institutions going on, I felt as if I had heard a dissertation upon hygiene, where the discussion turned upon cathartics or some such thing, instead of good food, proper exercise, &c. We shall never have our poor and dependent classes, in all departments of life, elevated, until we have more Christianity. I have been discouraged, and paralyzed, and disheartened continually by the difficulties in getting people to work. But I believe today, from the success we have had in our own county, that every single dependent child, at the earliest age, can be better situated by boarding it out at a small price, in a respectable family, than they can in any institution. I should like to see every single institution in the country for dependent children closed tomorrow, if they could be.
The PRESIDENT: Mrs. Lowell has given us not only one good speech, but two.
Miss JENNIE COLLINS: I would like to speak a word in behalf of the institutions, mainly to show the material they have to work upon. This morning I questioned a girl who has served sentence at Deer Island, afterwards in Dedham jail, and next in the Woman's prison. I said, "Mary, what was the first offence of yours which caused you to be sent to the Island?" "I was a little girl of ten," she said, "living in one of the back streets; my father was a hard-working man, and Sunday morning he gave me two dollars and told me to go to fetch the beans for breakfast, to get a loaf of brown bread and a quart of beans for the family, and a pint of whiskey for himself or mother. Going, I met another girl and she said, 'Mary, let us go and have some whiskey.' Both little girls drank until they were intoxicated, and were found by an officer in the alleyway. He found out their homes, and Mary's father was so indignant, and so lacking in Christian spirit, that he said the officer might retain the girl, and, consequently, she was brought into the Municipal Court Monday morning. The
ther was not called as a witness; she was complained of for eing drunk; the officer was the witness and she was sent to the sland. She was not put with the other criminals, but taken into le family to wait upon one of the matrons, who taught her to rotchet, and when she came out made her handsome presents. [owever, after she had been discharged, she felt that she had ecome a criminal. She found some money of her father's in a oot at home, and took it; her father then appeared against her nd she was sent to Dedham jail. I have heard her tell how kind he people at Dedham were; she felt for the first time that it was vorth while to live. She is naturally a brave-hearted girl, and is oday a working girl in a family, where they think a great deal of her. But in the Woman's prison, she said it was like boardingschool; the girls there felt proud at every opportunity which was given to them for improvement. I inquired what was the punishment: Solitary;" "What is that?" "We have a pleasant room where we can look out on the landscape, and occasionally the matron calls, and our food is brought, and we are talked to by the ladies; and if we can crotchet or do fancy work, we are given that; but in no case are the inmates treated unkindly. We have a recreation room, and the ladies used to come up to the workshops and visit us, and when I came out, I was very sorry to be obliged to come away." "And, last fall," she said, "I went on a spree, and would have liked to be taken back there, because I don't like this work."
I wish to say that the ladies and gentlemen that have charge of these institutions have very little to work upon. If you could see these children as I do, in their natural state, in all their degradation, so little to work on, you would be gratified to see the perfection that they are brought to. I want to speak a little word for Colonel Underwood. People allowed their sympathies to carry them beyond their judgments, when these questions were not discussed so much as they are now. So a party of ladies and gentlemen visited the Island, as you did yesterday. They were shown the apartments, and approved of all that was said and done. Finally, before a hearing at the State House, one of the gentlemen rose and said that he noticed the women who were discharged in cold weather left the boat with thin clothing. It was reported in the papers very fully. Mr. Underwood had no means of redress; but he wished to have it understood that he was not responsible. Very frequently the women were arrested in warm weather, and committed as they were. If the sentence is three months, it brings them out in December. The city has appropriated shawls and warm clothing, and a pair of shoes for them; but they take these and pawn them for money, and get drunk and go back again. It is well that the institutions should be better known before you can judge of their efficiency, and whether we can dispense with them. I think that we cannot.
Dr. CADWALADER: I wish to protest against too strong an advocacy of the placing-out system as against institutional life. I think that by so doing any such argument would defeat the very direction which I hope it will take. The placing-out system, from the evidence both abroad and at home, and especially the admirable success in Massachusetts, invites the most favorable consideration; it is one of the most hopeful tendencies of the time. But if institutional life were to go out of existence, I think we should find that a large number of dependent children could not be provided for by the system of placing-out alone. Institutions or Homes for the Friendless will be required alongside of the placingout system as places for the transitional care of many of their children and for those for whom homes in families may not be procurable from some disqualifying condition in the child. I think, therefore, that it would not be well to assert a sentiment which is in the direction we all are agreed is the best, so strongly as to bring about opposition from other workers who should have great credit.
Miss E. C. PUTNAM: I think it is not clearly understood that the children we want to place directly out in families are not the naughty children, but the dependent children. I did not know how Visitors could be found until I went to fourteen towns in Massachusetts and found charming people in those quiet places ready to do the work. I do not know how it is in the West, in New York or Pennsylvania. We went to some intelligent men here in Boston and asked what intelligent man we could apply to in some country town,-some physician, lawyer or business man; then we went to this man and asked him who was the most sensible woman, and we asked her to be a Visitor.
Prof. WRIGHT, of Wisconsin: I wish we might have an opportunity at some future time to discuss this question of institutional life versus home life. It seems to me that the best place for a child is a good home, and the worst place for a child is a bad home; that any institution that is likely to exist in the light of the 19th century is far better for a child than a bad home, and that no institution is likely to be so good for a child as a good home. In every institution there is not only the spirit of the institution which is diffused through the officers, but there is also the spirit of the institution which is opposed to the officers. When we study an institution, it is not enough to know what sort of people are in charge of the institution, but also what sort of people are in the institution with whom the others come in contact. There is a degrading tendency in institutions as well as an elevating tendency. In every institution we must bear in mind that it onends very much on the local circumstances and the character of viduals and so on. It seems to me, from the very fact a small
itution is far better than a large one on the very ground lained by Mr. Paine, that it is impossible to carry it on,ether you call it a prison or an orphan asylum or what not,— hout machinery. In a large institution each individual becomes art of the machine, and everything must be carried on by a very ct discipline. In a small institution there is opportunity to ividualize, and to care for each one separately, and to make eptions to the rules for the good of the individual, instead of rying on the machinery as the first thing. If I were to classify order of places, best or worst, in which people may be placed, ›ecially children or young people, I say first of all, a good home; ond best, a small institution rightly managed under proper rsons, meaning by a small institution, one or two hundred nates or less; thirdly, a large institution; fourth, a bad home. Rev. CHARLES H. BOND: Our institution is known as the Concticut Industrial School for Girls, at Middletown. It is not a ate institution, but a private charity with State aid. I feel, ice listening to the reports of the various bodies, especially that om the Auxiliary Visitors of Massachusetts, that our institution trying to combine the work of all. We have twelve ladies conected with our school who reside in different parts of the State, id make it their business to visit the school, to see how we are ving, and to inspect the general condition of the girls; and when ey go out into families these ladies take a special interest in iem. We have one member of the Board whose business it is to isit girls; it is my wife's business also, and another lady conected with the school visits them. I agree with Miss Putnam, hat there are many things which can better be brought to the ttention of a lady in the management of a school for girls.
In addition to our institution work, we have, as I have said, a erfectly working system of placing out and visiting. We have n school 172 girls, and outside of the school from 50 to 75, all ›laced in the State of Connecticut with perhaps one exception. We prefer to have them in our own State where we can reach hem. These girls are visited once in three months. We have been very successful in placing out girls. There is a difference of opinion as to the time of detention in school. Girls are committed to us until they are twenty-one. That law has been operating only three years. We do not propose to keep them until they are twenty-one. We could not do it. But we do propose to exercise till then a careful guardianship in their affairs. The average detention is from two to three years. We are very careful to have girls ready to go before sending them out. We have the class of honor and grade system, and I do not wish any girl to leave the school until she is in the class of honor. Then she goes with all the honors of the school, and it is very seldom that such a girl is returned. But when, through the influence of friends, a girl in the sixth or seventh grade is allowed to go out, in nine cases out