Imagens das páginas


By Ray M. Hanchett, State Agent, Industrial School for Girls,
Mitchellville, Iowa.

The work of paroling the delinquent girl cannot be dealt with from a scientific standpoint, neither can one theorize to any great extent. It is a practical every day case-study work.

Since the establishment of the Industrial School for Girls at Mitchellville the placing out system has been used. In the early years the law termed it binding out by the trustees with the consent of the parents or guardians. In 1904 the legislature enacted a law that provided for the appointment of a state agent who would care for the parole work of three institutions, the Soldiers' Orphans' Home at Davenport, the Industrial School for Boys at Eldora, and the Industrial School for Girls at Mitchellville. Necessarily the time of the state agent had to be divided, and the two institutions first named being the larger naturally claimed the most of the time and attention of the agent. Not until 1909 did the legislature provide for a state agent at each school, since which time the delinquent girl has received the attention, care and guidance so necessary to that class of girls. The work of the parole department is supplementary to the training of the industrial school. The girls are given an opportunity to take their places again in society, under the supervision of the school through the state agent, and to receive the benefit of the training and the pleasure of a home. "The greatest longing of a child as well as his greatest need is for a home with personal belongings and a mother.''

The thorough investigation of a home is the first essential to the successful placing of a girl. Many features enter into the consideration,— the location and character of the neighborhood, the general atmosphere of the home, of whom the family is composed and especially the personality of the housewife, as well as good recommendations from five of the best people of the community. If the investigation be not carefully and wisely made disastrous results are likely to ensue. Often after the home has been approved and the girl placed, unfavorable conditions develop that make it necessary to remove the girl. In a home where chaos reigns discipline and rules seldom are observed.

Most of the girls placed out do housework because that is the work in which they can be under most constant supervision, and the training at

the school is arranged to fit them for this occupation. Constant supervision is essential until the girl has proved herself trustworthy and sufficiently responsible to undertake other work. The education of these girls is very limited. Most of them on entering the school are below grade. In a few exceptions, the girls have reached the first year in high school but they are not qualified to meet the requirements needed to take up vocational work; it is occupational work rather than vocational that is the essential.

The paroling of a girl to a position in a home on a farm has been found to be far preferable to a home in a small village or city. I heard the superintendent of a girl's school in a near-by state remark, "Never place a girl on the farm; there is the hired man."' In the home in the city there is the butcher, the baker, and the candle-stick maker at the kitchen door daily. Besides, it takes the girl in nearly every instance back into the same atmosphere and conditions that caused her to be sent to the school. No, the rural environment is far more wholesome. The country home with a little family of children best suits the needs of these girls.

Even greater thought and judgment should be used in the selection of a girl to fit the home. Going on parole means the gradual readjustment of the girl's life. Leaving the protecting, restraining atmosphere of the institution, where she had little temptation, no care of responsibility and small opportunity to choose or decide for herself, she is placed out in the world among strangers to adapt herself to new conditions and surroundings and to apply the lessons she has learned while at the school. Like the babe learning to walk, the girl is literally learning to stand alone; therefore, the protecting hand must be stretched forth on every side lest she fail. Also, protection is needed in so far as not placing temptation in her way. Any one knowingly placing temptation in the way of one of these girls is as responsible for her downfall as the girl herself.

Society, in many cases, hesitates to extend the friendly hand to these girls, therefore it has been found advisable in placing a girl that as few of the neighbors, as well as the children in the home, as possible be told from whence the help has been secured. The girl can go forth with a firmer step when not met on every side with a critical gaze; she can appear more natural and reflect the best that there is in her.

There are problems to meet almost daily in the work. Some of these may be righted by correspondence, but others call for immediate visits to the homes, after which it is often found that it is not wholly the fault of the girls. In an article in the Ladies' Home Journal on the help question it is said, "Wherever there is a servant problem there is also a mistress problem." This is very true, and I have begun to think the placing to employment can be likened unto the much discussed, unsolved servant problem of the day. Misunderstandings that arise may be overcome, or on the other hand it may prove best to remove the girl, with really no special fault in the home or the girl,-just a misfit. Not all dispositions and temperaments harmonize. Several replacements may be required before the right home can be found, but we should not lose hope in the girl. I have been told by one who has had long years of experience in dealing with this class

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

of girls that she knew of a girl replaced thirteen times, and that in the fourteenth home she made good. (That was not in Iowa.) When the proper selection is made and the girl goes into the home and is made a part of the home, the employer taking a motherly interest in the girl and her welfare, giving her council and advice, the training and development begun in the school will be continued, and after one or two years out on parole, or such time as is needed in which she can earn her discharge by good reports, the girl will have acquired the habit of right-living and well-doing to such an extent that one can feel quite certain of her success in the future. The question is often asked, “How many girls have been made better women by state's care and paroling?" I would say all, but as to the per cent who continue the right-living no one can estimate.

Occasionally it has been found advisable to allow a girl to go to her parents or her relatives when they have moved into a new locality, so that she can not again meet daily those who contributed to her delinquency. In the report of the New York Training School for Girls I find this good suggestion: "Before a girl can return to her own home a work of preparation must be undertaken with her family. They must be taught to see the purpose of the school, the reason perhaps for their failure in the upbringing of the girl, their duty towards the girl, all of which frequently result in their acquiring a new idea concerning their social duties and citizenship."' Here is where we need the cooperation and help of the social worker, who is now taking her place in every well-regulated community. Let the social worker be carrying on the upbuilding work in the home while the girl is at the institution. Too often, when a girl is paroled to her parents, they are overindulgent in clothes, amusements and company; in such a case the girl's good conduct lasts only until the novelty of being at home is worn off, then in many cases she drifts into the old habits or contracts a hasty, undesirable marriage. One of the most essential things in carrying on the successful placing out of the delinquent girl is that Iowa should place upon the statute books a law governing the marriage of girls while out on parole.

In the paroling of the delinquent, the greatest problem that there is to incet is that class of the mentally deficient who have to be placed out. As a rule this class of girls are good workers, in so far as doing well the tasks given them, and they are untiring in their work, but they have not the mind to remember any routine work. Of the one hundred ard thirteen girls paroled from the industrial school during the last biennium thirty per cent were noticeably deficient. Of the remaining seventy per cent, if they had been given the Binet-Simon test, how many do you think would have tested normal? In the report of 1911 of the Massachusetts Training School I find that of the fifty-six girls who were out on parole and who were examined by the Binet test, ranging in age from fourteen to twenty years, the average probably being eighteen and one-half years, four of this number were found to be normal. Using this as a basis, of the one hundred and thirteen who were placed out in Iowa nine would be the number normal. These apparently normal girls go out and meet the same conditions and temptations of the normal sister, but with the minds

and resistance of children. After hearing the splendid paper on "Certain Cases of Feeble-mindedness Frequently Unrecognized," by Dr Sidwell, which he gave at the State Conference of Charities and Correction at Ft. Dodge last month, the question arises "Should the Delinquent Girl be Paroled?"

Going out on parole is the long-looked-for goal in every girl's life in the institution, yet it is not unusual to see tears as they are leaving the school, leaving in many cases what has been to them the only home and true friends they have ever known. It is well to encourage this sentiment and have the girls look forward to a visit from the state agent as some one coming from home to see them. The state agent should learn to know each girl personally before she leaves the school and study each case separately. Let the girl feel as she is leaving the familiar surroundings that a friend is going with her and that this friend trusts her and has confidence in her that she will make good. Thought suggestion always works some good. One is unable to predict with any degree of assurance what will be the result in any case. The girl who somehow could not do well in the school will make good on parole and vice versa. Only as a last resort should the girl be returned to the school. Of the one hundred and thirteen girls placed out in this biennium ten were returned; only two of this number were returned for violating their parole, and the other eight girls were returned on account of sickness and causes for which the girl was not responsible. This record, I think, reflects much credit to the present management of the industrial school.

The state agent acts as the referee for the employer and the girl and necessarily a great deal of tact should be used. In the adjustment of all matters we should never lose sight of the question from the girl's standpoint. We should always encourage her to feel that she will receive justice and that her part will be taken if in the right and that she will be made to see the right if in the wrong. We should have a heart full of sympathy for these girls, but a firm hand to guide them.


By Felix H. Pickworth, Chaplain, The Reformatory, Anamosa, Iowa.

In discussing crime we dwell largely upon boys and men who are sent to the penal institutions. We are apt to overlook the girls and women because they are fewer, by comparison. The latest reports show at Fort Madison 594 men and at Anamosa 655 men and 34 women. The per cent of women incarcerated in Iowa as compared with the number of men is in the relation of one woman to 36 men. Why so few women? Is it that judges and county attorneys avoid, whenever possible, the sending of a woman to Anamosa? Is it that a minor charge is substituted so as to make punishment by fine or a jail sentence meet the case, because of some sentiment against incarceration of a woman at Anamosa? Under present conditions at Anamosa it would be more merciful and more humane to send a woman to Anamosa than to a jail. The probable reason for the small per cent of women who are penalized is that their home duties, in a large degree, remove them from the temptations incident to the lives of men. In the constantly increasing tendency of girls and women to find occupation in stores and public places we must grant that this reason is likely to lose much of its force.

Women sent to Anamosa are generally considered to be of the more abandoned and degenerate type. Drink, idleness and vanity have been assigned as causes contributing to their delinquency. It is quite as likely to be morphine, opium or other opiate. Statistics show that in the last fifteen years 197 women have been committed to Anamosa. Of these 17 used liquor moderately, 6 were intemperate and 174 were non-users; 15 used opium, 182 did not; 36 used tobacco, 161 did not, though I am informed onethird of those received acknowledge the use of snuff, and this is said to contain cocaine.

With this statement in mind consider the crimes for which they are committed. Larceny 45, keeping-house of ill fame 45, prostitution 31, adultery 23, assault 11, manslaughter 7, murder 6, bigamy 6, incest and lewdness 5. One is apt to ask, Do figures lie? or, Did some of the women lie when they said they were non-users of alcohol or opiates?

The delinquent woman was once a bright, cheerful, pure girl. What causes have contributed to her downfall? It is sometimes said that girls and women go astray because they are weak-willed. I do not think it fair to lay all the sins of women to weak wills. In crime charged to immorality there

« AnteriorContinuar »