Young criminals are the odd men out
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social stability which is naturally fostered by neighbourliness where families have strong roots has not yet been regained.
" We are passing through this dangerous transition period now," he said, " and young people have lost the restraints imposed on them by social repute and local public opinion."
But at the very core of the matter lay " the virtual collapse of religion throughout the land and the disappearance of ordinary standards of right and wrong.
" Catholic boys and girls are naturally affected by it, too; and it is no final answer to say that because they go to the sacraments, they are all bound to be good.'
" I know from hard experience— as does every other priest who has faced the problem—the difficulty of making the Faith work in their young lives in such circumstances."
Odd man out
Canon Fitzgerald's belief in youth work remains unshaken.
" It must be understood," he qualified, " that youth clubs do not touch the young criminal. He is unclubbable, the odd-man-out for whom a new kind of outlet is needed."
An Anglican Church Army sister, speaking in Nottingham, has blamed the complete absence of any religious background for nearly all the offences committed by girls sent to the Bryanston House Approved School, where she is in charge.
Some of the girls had never been to church and did not know what Sunday or Christmas meant except that both days were holidays.
Shortly after a Nativity Play was produced at the school, one of the girls told her: " When we went to church today the vicar read a bit out of our play."
The vicar had been reading from the Bible.
Spare the rod and spoil the child was not just a saying; it was the inspired word of God who made children, said Fr. James Farrow. parish priest of St. Joseph's, Gateshead-on-Tyne. at last week's annual meeting of the North-East Federation of Head Teachers' Associations.
Two hundred delegates heard him advocate the use of more corporal
punishment. " I wish it was administered on the spot and not about three weeks afterwards when it was of no use," he added.
Parents have failed
In a 7.500 word memorandum dealing with juvenile delinquency. issued this week. the Warrington and District Schoolmasters' Association describes parenthood as " the most neglected of all crafts."
The association recommends public instruction on bringing up children, a review of economic factors affecting family life, and men teachers for boys over eight.
" Let us stop regarding children as criminals and recognize them for what they are—the innocent victims of ' broadminded ' parents who have failed in their natural duty," says the association.
"Children have had to face the problems of life in the light of a dual moral code, the nature and effects of which they increasingly understand as they grow older.
" While they are called upon by parents, teachers, parsons and others to conform to standards of absolute truth and honesty, they watch adults —often the parents—lying for convenience and evading restrictions."