In America today, the school dropout looms as one of the nation's
major problems. Presidents of the United States, Congress, governors,
labor and business officials, educators, social workers, and juvenile
court judges have expressed their concern publicly and frequently.
Yet, the school-dropout problem has been with us a long time; in
fact, it is only slightly less ancient than the schools themselves.
Pictures of actual children are unsatisfactory; like the sample hands of the bridge expert, they always seem to be just a little bit different from any we actually have. Yet, they insistently invite themselves because they are so very dramatic—and they are harmless guests if we are careful never to go beyond saying, "For instance, many people are somewhat like this." Seven children are described here; each has developed a sort of habitual pattern (his or her own mosaic) for "coming to terms with reality." In some rough approximation, the problems that each has had to meet are of about equal seriousness and involve an equal degree of frustration. Has one of the children a better method than the others, and what are our own criteria of "better"?
The title of our chapter at once presents a point of view. Its question form implies an orientation. The delinquent, as such, is not made so by nature. The very wording of the query suggests that something, other than original sinfulness, somehow accounts for his misbehavior.
Teachers show considerable individual differences in their response to the symptoms presented by their pupils. With so many variables, there can be no uniform practice. Unless the supervisor or principal in Miss Jones' school knows something of her personality and has some knowledge of John and the other problem pupils in the classroom, he will be unable to suggest any practical procedures for use in emergencies similar to the one described above.
Although the teacher sometimes has to deal with delinquent behavior in the classroom, his far more important responsibility is to promote the social development of all his pupils. One of the most effective ways of achieving this positive goal is through guidance of everyday group experiences. The teacher will accomplish more if, instead of devoting himself to ferreting out potential delinquents in his class and planning a special program for them, he makes all the experiences of the school contribute to the attainment of exhilarating, inviting, well-defined personal goals.
Even though well-qualified and adequately prepared teachers were in every classroom, there would still be certain cases of delinquency and emotional disturbance with which they would need the help of specialists. Actually, many teachers now employed need much mere than assistance with a few complex behavior problems. Because they have not been adequately prepared for their child-guidance responsibilities, they need in-service assistance in child study and counseling and in techniques of work with groups. Consequently, special school services that supplement and facilitate the work of the teacher make an important contribution to the prevention of delinquency.
The superintendent of schools occupies the king-pin position in a school-community program for the prevention and control of juvenile delinquency. Via his teaching staff and the special school services, the administrator has close and continued contacts with every child and youth in the community for an extended period of time. The school receives the child early in life and aims to assist him directly in becoming a well-integrated and socially useful citizen. Because the schools have all the children, because they have trained personnel to deal with youth and youth problems, because their objectives call for developing socially acceptable and personally satisfying behavior, the superintendent finds himself at a tactical advantage, enjoyed by the head of no other agency concerned with the prevention and control of juvenile delinquency.
In every large community, and even in many small ones, one finds a sizable number of delinquent children who fail to respond to the efforts of the teachers, the guided group experiences, and the special services of the regular schools. The reason is that the symptoms of their disturbances are too severe or too upsetting to other children. The regular school can- not reach the excessive truant who rarely attends classes. Delinquents who steal consistently or who seduce others into embarking on undesirable sex activities or threaten them with physical harm should not be kept in regular classes. These children are in need of special schools which provide the particular setting and services necessary for.their readjustment to community life.
Experimental studies and clinical observations have repeatedly demonstrated that the home is an important factor in the development of delinquent behavior. A program for the treatment and prevention of delinquency, therefore, requires working with parents. But working with parents presents many problems. Often co-operation is difficult to secure and the attempts by the school as well as other agencies to help the child are neutralized by the home. Is there anything that can be done? How can we work with parents?
Happy, healthy, and secure children are rarely recruits for delinquency. If homes, schools, churches, and youth-serving agencies were doing an effective job, juvenile courts and reformatories would close for lack of customers. If we really want to keep delinquency from even starting—if we are eager to do more than lock the gate after the horse has run away —we must go "all out" for a positive program for the well-being of all children and youth.
The purpose of this chapter is to describe special programs for the prevention of juvenile delinquency. Teachers and administrators should have the information necessary for successful participation in social action which tends to prevent delinquency. But they must also have insight into the origins of delinquent behavior. Only when community group work is founded on knowledge of the dynamics of the individual delinquent can delinquency be treated or prevented. Delinquency is personal trouble. Prevention begins with a single person's sensitive perception and recognition of a child in conflict.
In the preceding chapters, teachers, well qualified by personality and preparation, have been considered to be the foundation of the school's program for preventing delinquency The selection and training of these teachers is the concern of this chapter.
What does research say about delinquency and the schools? Although there is little reported specifically on this subject, the results of a number of related investigations axe of interest to school people. They further clarify ideas and support the description of present practice presented in preceding chapters. The references included in this chapter represent the best pertinent material among the hundreds of titles examined by this author and his collaborators.
In this yearbook the school is viewed as the hub of the program for stemming the rising tide of juvenile delinquency. The foundation of the school's program is the teacher, who has contact with every child before he starts on the road to delinquency. Equipped with an understanding of delinquent behavior and of the conditions out of which it arises, the teacher is ready to act constructively in the classroom.
The purpose of this commentary is to explore, illuminate, and discuss advocacy regarding the problem of the lack of representation of African American male characters in books grades 2-5. This commentary includes a brief discussion of the existing research on children’s literature for African American males, strategies for advocacy, and educational implications.
This commentary examines the problem of educational inequality. It argues that we need to make changes beyond simply our schools if we want to have long-lasting and impactful educational reform.