THE Labour Party's report on family services
and the treatment of crime is heartening to those who have for many years struggled to secure an enlightened approach to the juvenile offender.
A human person. while realising his own potential as a self-contained individual, cannot be understood or led to self-fulfilment save in the social context. It is as a member of a family, first and foremost, that the child must learn what his obligations are, that he is created to serve as well as to he, that the more he gives and creates the more he becomes.
The plea for personal problems to he dealt within the context of the whole family is, in one sense, so obviously right that one wonders why on earth official recognition of this truth has been so long delayed. Mrs. Bessie Braddock saw it years ago when she founded her liaison committee in Liverpool, which brought representatives of all statutory and voluntary bodies in the area together round one table.
Mrs. Braddock knew, from her social work, that it is useless to try to reform a young offender as though he were an island, when in fact his problems derived from the fact that his mother was an alcoholic. his father a regular guest of Her Majesty's penal establishment, his sister a tubercular case, and the whole family living in bad conditions. All this needed tackling together.
So the Labour Insistence on the local family Service to tackle all questions arising from marital and family relationships is lo be greeted as something profoundly Christian.
It will have to consider the tensions arising in homes where working class parents now have children in universities; where the lack of a basic creed makes communication between parent and child in authoritative terms impossible; where the modern phenomenon of the "adult child'", the child who matures so early in body and even intellect yet not in knowledge and his emotional life, creates endless quarrels and restlessness.
The humanitarian institution should now he dying the death. save for extreme cases, in favour of the revitalisation of the family from within. In this context, the mutual aid pacts of family groups—that is, groups of families— takes on a new significance.