By Mary M. C. KEMBALL,
NatiOna1 President of the Union of Catholic Mothers THE, JUVENILE OFFENDER, by G. L. Reakes, J.P. (Johnson, 10s. 64.). AT a time when so much attention is given (and rightly) to the question of juvenile delinquency and when so many scientific studies are presented, it is a relief to read a perfectly ordinary book on the subject.
Mr. Reakes. in The juvenile Offender, does not set out to make any scientific contribution to this problem. This is a book written by an experienced .magistrate who has devoted many years to the study of the root causes of a problem about which all serious-minded citizens are gravely concerned. There is no royal road to the solution of the problem of juvenile delinquency. but Mr. Justice Lynskey reminds us in a foreword to this book that "experience has shown that it is between the ages of 16 and 21 that the majority of criminals arc made."
It is, therefore, of the greatest importance that those who have the care and training of children and young people should appreciate how much depends on the way they accept their responsibilities. .
Mr. Reakes leaves the reader in no doubt as to the position of parents in this matter. Indeed he makes amply clear that the failure of many presentday parents to exercise parental control is largely responsible for the numbers of young people who find their way to the juvenile courts. And he reminds us forcibly.that the children need the more stern control that young people associate with and expect from the father of the home.
FAR too much responsibility in the matter of discipline of the family (and who will deny that discipline is necessary?) is left to the mother. This shelving of responsibility on the part of the modern father leaves the often harassed mother with more than her fair share in the upbringing of the family.
The author points out how often, even when a child is summoned to court and the father is likewise summoned as the guardian of the child, the father fails to appear—evidence . .
again of his complete indifference to the serious situation in which his child finds himself. Throughout the book one senses the author's insistence on the contribution that a stable home background gives to young people. He instances the need for the constant care and attention of the mother, the impossible situation that develops —indeed it can hardly be avoided— when father and mother are both working outside the home: the breakup of the home by separations which leave the children bewildered and illS equipped to resist the many temptations of our modern way of life. A vigorous campaign to inake parents realise their responsibilities
will help more effectively than in any other way towards a solution of this problem. To leave the solution to the schools. the courts or the State is surely a confession of failure on the part of the parents.
now rourts stork T is highly desirable that the public 'generally should be well informed on the mechanics of a juvenile court and the modern methods of dealing with the young delinquent. Towards this end Mr. Reakes has set out clearly and in fair detail the position and duties of magistrates in the juvenile courts. A careful study will show that our aim is to rehabilitate and that even when the extreme course is taken and a young person is sent to an approved school and so removed for a time from the parental home, the whole idea is to rehabilitate and make the young parson fit and ready to he a law-abiding citizen aware of his responsibilities to himself, his borne and other members of the community. Although there are many who will disagree with the author's views on the restoration of corporal punishment ordered by the courts, most magistrates will agree that a good thrashing by the right person at the right time would prevent the appearance of many young delinquents.
This book, which is extremely well produced, should be read by parents, teachers and social workers, for its wealth of information and its cornpletely sane approach to one of the most difficult problems of our times.