By Terence McQueen
SOCIAL research into Catholic delinquency, more Catholic workers in the voluntary social field, and more sense of community in the parish were among the needs stressed this week by Mr. Cecil James, one of the two Catholics in the new Standing Advisory Committee on Juvenile Delinquency in Britain.
The main causes of the Catholic delinquent problem, he urged, were (1) unsatisfactory home background: and (2) inadequate knowledge of, or involvement in, the Faith.
Mr. James is one of 40 men and women who have agreed to advise the Home Secretary, Mr. Henry Brooke, on ways of preventing juvenile crime.
The Committee also includes another Catholic, Mr. J. A. McKay, Chief Constable of Manchester. Other members are Frankie Vaughan, the singer; Neale Pharoah, a student who has served a sentence at a detention centre: and Veronica Miles, a Jamaican girl working and studying in Birmingham.
After the Standing Committee's first meeting at the Home Office on Monday. Mr. James told me he would like to see Catholic sociologists take a good look at the problem of juvenile delinquency and throw some light on the facts. "Then we might be able to make some constructive suggestions," he said.
"So far, there has been little social research sponsored by the Church in this country." he said. "Social science, for instance. hasn't been given in teacher-training colleges until recently. And for some reason which I can't fathom. there appears to be a shortage of Catholics coming, forward to do voluntary work of all kinds."
Mr. James suggested that our preoccupation with. the Catholic schools question had, no dowse necessarily diverted a lot of the Catholic effort front the Youth Service. "But this work for our schools." he added, "has given us wonderful foundations on which we can now build really effective youth service work.
"The Newsom Report drew conclusions that our educationists have been emphasising for years."
A king pin in the youth service. Mr. James said. is the fostering of a sense of community. "In any community." he said. "there are a number of inadequate people—women who have little idea of good management. children who are running loose. There is. too, a lack of appreciation of the school's role merle parents. and vice versa, and a lack of appreciation of the overall problem of loneliness."
The whole problem of delinquency stems from social environment. he added. '"'chat environment can't he changed overnight. Youngsters have got to make the best of the world we live in. That places on us the responsibility of teaching them to discriminate in using the things of this world. rather than running away from. or against them.
Mr. James said that one of the most telling statistics was that the juvenile delinquency rate went up when the school-leaving age was raised. "This seems to call for a complete re-think on the syllabus of the last year at school—more emphasis on involvement in religion at this age rather than the straight teaching of religion."