The Case of Delinquents
Sir,-Mr. O'Halloran was right to call me to order for billing to note that he recommended corporal punishment in extreme cases only. I do realise that many parents and others who resort to corporal punish-. ment at times and in moderation' may be loving parents or fine educators. It may be partly a matter of temperament and partly of tradition. Conversely others who never use force may not necessarily be the best guides of youth. 1 hey may be gifted with a very forceful personality and he able to exercise control by a look or a word. yet lack warmth and he feared in quite another way, less primitive hut more objectionable. While this is true, it still remains that when we ream-1 to the motive of fear. we are resorting. alholl of necessity, to a far poorer told far less effective method of character-building,
Regarding delinquents. potential or actual. the matter is more delicate. • I have. during my career as a psychologist, interviewed. on the average. about two delinquent boys each week. These boys have all been through the Juvenile Courts. The aetiology of their delinquency is not simple. Lack of moral and religious training plays a large part. as one would expect. But the most serious and intractable cases are most definitely those in which the boy has been reared in a home where he has been deprived of affection and where any attempt to correct him has been by use of physical violence.
If is true that in some cases the lad is delinquent because he has been over-indulged. These cases are rarer and are easier to remedy,
In the majority of cases, these
boys will not improve until they are placed in an environment where. for the first time. they are treated with love and respect by their educators. I know one Catholic Approved school in this country very well. Here, though at times. the excellent headmaster finds himself obliged to resort to the cane for serious breaches of discipline; this is a rarity. The head knows that corporal punishment is far less appropriate here than among ordinary high-spirited boys from good homes. One poor youth known to me had been described hy his previous Catholic head teacher as a " Potential Craig." He left this school after a period of training. as good and promising a lad as one might hope for. On the other hand, the other day an Irish mother. whose boy came under clinic care because of his troublesome behaviour. declared, " I'll send him over to Ireland. They'll tan the hide off him." Naturally, my non-Catholic colleagues were not a little surprised, and came to me for reassurance. What could I reply? Perhaps some of our Irish readers will tell me.
(Miss) Kate Rorke. Bridge House, Aylcsford.