Delinquency: The Juvenile Offender in America Today

Delinquency: The Juvenile Offender in America Today

Delinquency: The Juvenile Offender in America Today

Delinquency: The Juvenile Offender in America Today

Excerpt

There is no royal road to an understanding of the problems of delinquency, its causes and its treatment. Those who expect ready-made answers, simple formulas, and easy clichés may as well prepare themselves for disappointment. Our knowledge of human nature, particularly in its wayward expressions, is still meager and scanty despite notable progress in the fields of psychiatry, psychology, sociology, and social work during the past three decades. The best we can hope for is to put together what information we have and proceed to plan and develop our policies on the basis of the best tested evidence available. But let us not be deluded by false hopes and false illusions, expecting more than our limited knowledge for the present can provide.

It has been stated in another connection that anybody who has ever planted an ear of corn or a row of petunias fancies himself a horticultural expert. By the same token, all those who come into contact with children (and who among us does not?) --whether as parents, teachers, ministers, jurists, or police officials--frequently feel themselves especially qualified to speak with considerable authority on the problems of the waywardness of our youth. But let us exercise here a proper note of caution and restraint, and above all, let us not underestimate the role of the expert. The so-called common sense of the well-intentioned police official and the "good gray judge" is frequently little more than the cumulative bias and restrained cynicism developed over years of frustrating contacts with children who appear difficult, cantankerous, and unchangeable.

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