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environment. Every friend, every group-the school, the church, the street gang-all these are environments for the growing child. Each gives attitudes, words, experiences, beliefs, behavior; but the family is the most continuous, the most unrelenting. If the family influences are sufficiently strong and effective, the other experiences are trivial, passing, and slight deviations. They slip off the child as water does off a duck's back. The family pattern remains. That, however, is true only provided that the family itself is a unit, that there is a common attitude, a ready reaction, a single standard, an adequate organization of life and relations in the family. The sufficiency of the family is largely determined by its unity, its continuity, its positive standards, its lack of internal conflict. Things are wrong and right, good and bad, acceptable or unacceptable, without much question, without hesitancy. Given that setting, and the child's range of interests outside the family group tend to remain in the form of experiences which are passing things, glimpses upon life that vanish readily, and attitudes that come to no fruition. Especially is this true if the family mode fits in with the community interests and habits, so that there is no conflict between family values and community values. Under those conditions habit formation is easy, ready, and inevitable; conflicts are few and passing. But if—
It is significant that the professional criminal comes from an insufficient home. It is frequently a broken home. Frequently there is a dead father, a dead mother, sickness, disease, drunkenness, poor moral standards, internal conflict, lack of family discipline, lack of family interest. Where the home
family gather itself to do battle against a few new and strange and disapproved words that the child brings home from the street? What happens when the family discovers that the child has acquired a string of words, vulgar, disrespectful, coarse? Have you watched the family flutter and stretch its wings the way a fowl does to protect its young? Have you watched the family swoop down upon the words and do battle, unceasing battle, even if the child barely understands what the words mean? There is a curious artifice, a whole technic, a full catalogue of practices that come into play almost automatically.
Why this sudden rousing of the family to campaign against a few innocent words? There is reason enough. A new word is a new way of looking at life; it is a new way of having a good time; it is a new way of making friends; it is a new way of living; it is a vehicle for a new set of habits, for a new set of interests in life. It is the opening up for a new personality development. The family strives to keep the mold solid, to keep the form straight, to make the pattern as nearly like its own as possible. The family group is important in the making of the child's character because it is the earliest, the most persistent, the longest in time and the widest in range of any of the influences that touch the child's life. It begins with the cradle and extends to maturity. It is relentless in the sense that it notices every deviation, observes every difference, condemns or approves every attitude.
The child, like every older person, lives not in one environment, but in many. Every contact is a new
is insufficient, the child takes the street as a substitute for the home. The street gang becomes the place for more than adventure; it becomes the place of escape from the home, it becomes a substitute for the home. The beliefs, attitudes, interests, and ideals of the gang remain; they are not straightened out by a hostile and watchful family. The gang itself tends to be made up of boys whose homes are insufficient. Not that all children do not share the common experiences of the gang; but while they share them as occasional experiences, the others take them as a means of life. The older children, already adjusted to a life outside of proper and sufficient family control, set the fashion, organize the pursuits, give meaning to the activities. They are already acquainted with the new world and initiate the novice into the ways of the street. The inadequate control at home means that the gang experiences persist and are organized into habits. They become the way of living. The older boys, and not the parents, set the fashion. A child learns how to smoke because older boys smoke, to spit because older boys spit, to swear because older boys swear. They seek for types of adventure which are forbidden; they learn to look at the policeman with suspicion, at school with disdain. They talk about strange things, about criminals. They become interested in and learn to know the doubtful and condemned facts in their neighborhood; they live in a different world from the adequately protected and guarded child, and become different children.
The child's association with the gang leads to a new point of departure. It becomes the source of new interests,
attitudes, habits, beliefs, acquaintances, joys, and values. There grows up a sense of unity in the gang, a feeling of difference from other gangs. There comes a sense of conflict, sometimes actual fighting with other gangs in the neighborhood, depredations, pilferings, trouble-making; they become a noisy, reckless, mischievous group of youngsters who soon find themselves in conflict with the community. The boy is arrested. Here starts a new series of experiences. The boy ultimately goes to an institution, and that when he is a youngster of ten, eleven, or twelve, and sometimes even younger. Interesting to notice is the fact that the professional criminal begins his institutional career at a very early age. The two outstanding facts about him seem to be the broken, insufficient home and the institution.
The story of the influence of the juvenile institution upon the children sent to it is yet to be told. Here and there one gets a glimpse of the meaning of institutional life, and an occasional scandal breaks the surface of things and lets in a flood of light, only to pass away again and leave the institutional life, as delicate as that of the family influence, unchanged. Its inmates are young, children of nine, ten, eleven, twelve, up to sixteen. It is under the control of a superintendent and a number of guards. The guards are underpaid, comparatively illiterate men who work for wages, who work long hours, who need peace and quiet and self-assertion, and freedom for living their own lives. The children come from badly organized homes, from poorly organized neighborhoods. They bring to the school all of the problems of a family multiplied a
hundredfold in number and a thousandfold in complexity.
Their arrival is the culmination of a series of exasperating and fretting experiences. They have been talked to and talked about, examined and scolded, chased and caught; strangers have manipulated and condemned them; every bit of fineness and delicacy that was left has been strained to the breaking-point. They are stripped and raw and fearful, little unfortunate children herded in a group, under unsympathetic control-kindly and well meaning if you will, but with the kindness of a job where kindness is a strained virtue and an open weakness, and with sympathy for one's own driven hours and lack of peace. Let me put these general terms into a concrete example. Have you brought up a family of five boys between the ages of six and sixteen at the same time? If not, watch your neighbor's family. The children come down the stairs head first and pull one another's hair. They bully, fight, tease, and playfully roll about the ground or the floor, and occasionally tear their clothes and hurt one another; they do these things as a matter of growth.
Think of the trouble one child may give, think of the trouble five hundred can give, and that to a stranger who is taxed beyond mercy. A little unhappy child in an industrial school complained to me that he had been whipped because he climbed a tree. If you have trees and if you have children, the children will climb the trees just the way kittens do. But if you have five hundred children, and if one child climbs a tree, all of the children want to do it. If you have a limited budget for clothes, you cannot take the chance; the clothes are likely
to be torn. One must not climb a tree in an institution.
So every morning will find a dozen boys standing against the wall and with their hands folded awaiting the hour of judgment. One child climbed a tree, one climbed a fence, one pulled another's hair, and two boys had a fight. Apparently, if you are going to run an institution of five hundred children under disciplinary control for twenty-four hours, the mere problem of organization and administration imposes a rigid program. You gradually find yourself in a state of mind where the method of procedure is repression, and where the instrument of punishment is physical pain. Bitterness, tears, and sullen fervor for "getting even" on one side and flushed indignation and appetizing self-righteousness on the other result. Oh, I know that men mean well, that they are kindly and good-natured, that they like to boast of their achievements and exhibit a well disciplined and well groomed group of quiet youngsters to a visitor, that they are convinced of doing the best they know how. But the inevitable happens, and you must do something. What can you do? You cannot permit a lot of wild youngsters who fear neither God nor man to run loose. And that is true, too; you cannot. And you don't. That is the tragedy of it. It is bad either way, and it is worse, apparently, the more conscientious you are, because you are likely to lose your temper and shed your sense of humor and be almost too good for the job-too good for the world, so to speak. All the while twisted lives of children are being embittered and hardened. The fact that they are children, that they need to frolic and play and fight, to climb trees
and pull one another's hair, and to have buddies and tell secrets and run away-all of that is the thing that must be remembered, and is generally forgotten in the attempt to get efficiency, save money, cut expenses, and have rule and order and symmetry and cleanliness.
The children get what they needlove, companionship, and understanding. They must. They get it under cover, furtively, secretly. They learn to look upon every older person as a natural born enemy. The older boys teach them bad personal habits, vice. They take out in secret things the joy that comes from open freedom. They become sullen, stubborn, peevish; they have a grudge against the world; they develop inferiority complexes. They develop unhealthy slants upon life and queer attitudes; they are spoiled children. Their release signifies merely that the bad habits which they brought to the institution are now more untenable because of the additions that have been made to them.
Two or three years pass. The boy is now fourteen, fifteen, or sixteen. He returns home. The home has not improved. It has often grown worse. To overcome the handicaps that the boy had acquired by his absence it would have to be even better than it was. The street is still there, but not all of the children that he knew. Some have moved away, some are now going to school or are at work, regular children with regular habits and regular interests. And everybody says: "Don't play with Billy. Billy is a bad Billy is a bad boy. He has been up at the juvenile." And he has, that is true, and he is bad; he does bad things. But despite all
that, he is just a boy; he needs companionship and love. He finds them. There are a few such boys in the neighborhood who, like himself, have had a similar career. They are outcasts in the world. They know one another as such. They have perhaps met in the "juvenile." They cling together. They carry on in terms of their interests and habits as these have been shaped by the world's destinies. They do the old things better, more skilfully, and with greater deftness; they have learned how. The boy is arrested again. He is now sixteen or seventeen. Reckless, bold, devilish, fearless, suspicious, and highly sophisticated, he thinks the world belongs to him. What can the community do with him now? It sends him to a reformatory.
A reformatory is like a juvenile institution, only it is worse. It generally is a prison, differing little from the ordinary prison either in organization, building, work, influence, or even age. The age of persons in the reformatory in New York State was under thirty years for ninety-nine per cent. of those admitted in 1921, while in the prison it was sixty-nine per cent. for the same year. The same thing happens to the boy that took place before, but with less pretense, with harsher, more undiscriminating results. After two years the boy is released again.
He returns to the gang. There is no other place of welcome, no other place to go to. By habit, friendship contacts, interests, associations, all the threads that bind life to its sources, he is destined to return to the gang. He returned to his gang because that was his world. He knew no other; for him there was no other. He returned for
the same reason that leads you to your old haunts your office, your club, your associates, your world.
But to return to the gang is to live the life of the gang. He returns hungry for new experience, for new adventure, for new satisfaction. The gang is the instrument, the vehicle, the opportunity, the loyalty, the comradeship that makes common effort possible, and crime is a common effort. He is arrested again. He is now eighteen, nineteen, or twenty, and calloused, hardened, embittered. His life has been dour and unkindly; he has been behind prison bars many times. His contacts with the whole world were persistently at wrong times and in the wrong moods. He has been hounded, hated, persecuted, abused; all the world has been against him excepting a a little gang, five or six intimate friends who have shared their common lot with him, have risked their lives for him, have been loyal and true. The rest of the world has been dishonest. In his experiences he has known only people who were dishonest or afraid to trust him.
To understand fully the meaning of the gang in the life of the criminal is to understand much about him and much about ourselves. The group one inevitably, naturally, associates with is perhaps the most important factor in the shaping of a person's life attitudes and the reason for their persistent practice. One needs and finds succor and defense, recognition and approval, in one's gang, and one needs approval so much that what the gang approves of is the legitimate and right thing to do. The gang approves because carrying on the accepted mode of behavior is merely a corroboration of its own attitudes and activities. The
gang approves the criminal, and then let the world condemn if it will. Its condemnation is but a proof of the heroism of the actor. The papers may condemn the fact and blaze it forth, but the greater the disapproval, the more honor for the culprit. Let me illustrate.
What happens in your own "good" gang? If your gang smokes, you smoke, and the ladies do too when it is the fashion. That is true of jazz, of card parties, and of golf and church and sociables. If your gang approves of you, you are right in your own opinion because you are right in theirs, and their opinion is yours.
The bad man gets his approval for a bad thing, and the basic difference between you and the bad man is that you are a member of a good gang while he is a member of a bad gang. You have a group about you that approves your social behavior, that approves of your carrying on their way of doing and living. And the criminal has a group about him that approves of his carrying on in an unsocial way. Let me illustrate. A crime has been committed; the community is agog with the scandal; the papers are full of it; every one is talking about it, and no one knows who did it. No one except a small gang which sits about in a room and whispers it. The boy tells his tale, and the tale grows in the telling, as all tales do. Some one says that it was "great." He is acclaimed; he becomes the hero, perhaps the leader of the gang. And the larger the condemning head-lines, the greater the worth and value of the thing the man has done. That, of course, is merely an explanation of the why of the behavior. It does not involve a justification of it.