An Experiment in the Prevention of Delinquency: The Cambridge-Somerville Youth Study

An Experiment in the Prevention of Delinquency: The Cambridge-Somerville Youth Study

An Experiment in the Prevention of Delinquency: The Cambridge-Somerville Youth Study

An Experiment in the Prevention of Delinquency: The Cambridge-Somerville Youth Study

Excerpt

THE ACTION-RESEARCH REPORTED IN THIS VOLUME HAMMERS AWAY at one of the resistant frontiers of social science. It formulates a program of crime prevention and boldly seeks to evaluate the success of this program in practice.

The origin of this audacious enterprise can be traced back twenty years to an important Foreword that Dr. Richard Clarke Cabot wrote to an important book. In it he assessed the dispiriting findings that the authors, Sheldon and Eleanor T. Glueck, presented in their study of 500 Criminal Careers . Reformatories, they discovered, did not reform. Nor did any of the current methods for dealing with criminals seem to any appreciable degree to impede their antisocial course of conduct. Lines for delinquent careers, it turned out, are laid early in life, but the causative factors are so little understood that preventive and remedial social policies are largely ineffectual. Summing up the bleak evidence Dr. Cabot concluded that the problem is "too difficult for any wisdom yet existent."

But at the close of his Foreword he added a challenge. "Doubtless there are many persons," he wrote, "who believe they know the remedy so much needed for these men. I hope that the failures pointed out in this book will lead such persons to bring forward their remedies and to give us all the benefit of them." While he was writing this challenge he had in the back of his own mind a definite hunch concerning the remedy needed. Granted that genuine reformation of criminals is a rare phenomenon, he had none the less observed that in all cases known to him, "there has been at least one necessary condition: that someone should come to know and to understand the man in so intimate and friendly a way that he comes to a better understanding of himself and to a truer comprehension of the world he lives in ." The personal factor is the in-

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