THE CHILD OFFENDER
Magistrates Comment On Cardinal's Statement
BY A STAFF REPORTER
"Only rarely have I come across juvenile delinquents who have had a thorough religious upbringing. Mostly their ideas are lamentably perverted?" Monkey
So said Mr. B. Henriques, the well-known East London Juvenile Court magistrate, when I brought to his attention the Cardinal's much-publicised remarks on the growing evil of the child delinquent.
"Unless the children of to-day are going to be educated as Christians the children of to-morrow will become more and more pagan," said the Cardinal on Sunday last to his Newcastle audience.
The Cardinal's address (reported in an adjoining column) was on responsibility in general. He made the point that spiritual and moral training are the responsibility of the Church and the parents and that it is impossible to have "a moral code without a creed."
Drawing on his 26 years of experience on the bench of the East London Juvenile Court, Mr. Basil Henriques, J.P., blames irresponsible parents for increasing juvenile delinquency throughout the country.
A devout Jew himself, Mr. Henriques agrees fully with the Cardinal that it is the home with a sound religious background which alone can give children the chance to grow up into good citizens.
He told me on Tuesday : " Broken or breaking homes cannot be mended by State legislation. And it is only too true that broken homes are one of the main causes of juvenile delinquency.
" From the many cases I have to deal with it is clear that too often children reach adolescence without any standards of honesty, truth, or self-respect.
" They have been brought up by extraordinarily stupid. thoughtless, and neglectful parents, lacking all sense of their responsibilities as parents."
Mr. Henriques then touched on the religioub aspect of the problem: " Only rarely have I come across juvenile delinquents who have had a thorough religious upbringing. Mostly their ideas on the subject are lamentably poor or perverted. "It is, of course, one of the big tragedies of the times that so few people are influenced in what they do by the awe or love of God."
But Mr. Henriques was insistent that the danger of the " quarrelling home " could be just as considerable as the danger of the broken home— so far as delinquency among the young is concerned.
" I think that the child reared in such a home atmosphere deserves as
much care and thought . as the delinquent. For such children will swiftly become delinquents."
NO CATHOLIC FOSTERPARENTS And it was at this point that Mr. Henriques -made a strong plea for greater co-operation from Catholics in making available " foster-homes for deprived ' Catholic children."
"In my experience, it is exceedingly difficult to place Catholic youngsters from bad homes with other Catholic families. I don't know what the reason is, bar it would he a tremendous aid to us in tackling this problem if Catholics would come forward.
" Very frequently I have had no alternative but to send Catholic children to barrack-reform schools because no foster-parents could be found for them."
USE PARENTS' ASSOCIATIONS A prominent Methodist social worker, the Rev. Henry Carter. C.B.E., said ; " The home must come first in any serious effort to put right the problem of juvenile delinquency.
" On that point," he added. " I am with Cardinal Griffin entirely. However, there are good homes and bad; and in the case of the bad, something must be done to compensate for lack of parental control.
" It's difficult in them to get the kind of responsibility the Cardinal has in mind, because many parents may be morally and socially unfitted, " One of the best solutions to the problem would be the setting up everywhere of parents' associations to act as a link between home and school.' Bodies like your Catholic Parents' Association seem cut out for this extended role."
THE CATHOLIC PROBLEM CHILD
At Tower Bridge Juvenile Court I met Mr. John Watson, chairman. and Mrs. Dermot Morrah, deputy chairman, mother of two children, and the only Catholic J.P. sitting on the Juvenile Court in London.
Mr. Watson, who has a reputation for his wisdom and humanity in dealing with young people who come before him, said : "First I want to say that I agree wholeheartedly with Cardinal Griffin's remarks made at Newcastle at the week-end. It isonly too true that if parents allow the State to relieve them of all responsibility for their children, they will soon find the State relieving them of the children themselves."
Commenting on Mr. Henriques's paint about lack of Catholic fosterhomes, he said : " It has come to