From a Special Correspondent
Two years ago Canada's Jocists wanted to get to the root of juvenile crime. They started an international enquiry—a kind of mass observation— into the circumstances of youth crime. And they came to one conclusion— youth crime could be eliminated by thoroughly grounded, adequately prepared Christian parents who had been well instructed in their responsibilities before marriage. At the congress. in which the findings of Me crime enquiry were discussed, 104 couples were man-led. Now 75 babies have been born of those marriages. These 75 babies will be the living testimony of their parents' theory.
The other day I interviewed two Canadian Army chaplains on this question of juvenile crime. Both were experienced in penology and similar social work. One was an Anglican. The other, the Rev. Capt. J. H. Fitzgerald, is the Catholic padre of a Canadian general hospital.
" Environment and the laxity of parents are not' the basic causes of fuvenile crime," they said.
PREPARATION FOR MARRIAGE Fr. Fitzgerald and his Anglican contemporary also agreed that " the correct solution for the problem of juvenile delinquency and youth crime in general is sound and intelligent preparation for marriage."
The discussion had largely been inspired by recent CATHOLIC HERALD articles of Grace Conway, in which she suggested that a great deal of juvenile waywardness is traceable directly to the parents.
"A poor environment merely nourishes the young plant," said Fr. Fitzgerald: " a home which has no religious, or other foundation, is only the breeding ground for the young souls which have been transplanted there by irresponsible parents—such a home, a home of no moral discipline, basically constitutes an environment which is like fertiliser upon an underfed young plant in need of vital food. The influence of such an environment is like a slow poison: it retards the progressive influence of good inspirations and throwing the young soul back. ward in its course, eventually kills it for both God and man."
ONLY THE SELFISH DON'T AGREE During the past five months I have quizzed many people—mostly parents—on the subject and found that in the majority of cases. they agree with Miss Conway's contention.
Only those in whom I detected signs of selfishness or self-righteousness did not agree. but adhered to the " spare the rod, spoil the child " theory.
The Anglican padre, too, questions the " spare the rod, spoil the child " theory. He stated: " . . . you cannot beat good behaviour into young people; you must lead them to good; it is necessary to make them feel a conscious good behaviour."
Fr. Fitzgerald then added: " Be sure that those who have children prepare those children for marriage from the cradle to the wedding day—and you'll secure the Christian future of their offspring."