Social Treatment in Probation and Delinquency: Treatise and Casebook for Court Workers, Probation Officers, and other Child Welfare Workers

Social Treatment in Probation and Delinquency: Treatise and Casebook for Court Workers, Probation Officers, and other Child Welfare Workers

Social Treatment in Probation and Delinquency: Treatise and Casebook for Court Workers, Probation Officers, and other Child Welfare Workers

Social Treatment in Probation and Delinquency: Treatise and Casebook for Court Workers, Probation Officers, and other Child Welfare Workers

Excerpt

During the last thirty-five years a profound change has taken place in opinions and attitudes regarding the delinquencies of children. The orthodox common law regarded a child under seven years of age as incapable of committing crime and subject only to the disciplines of home, school, and church; it regarded a child over fourteen years of age as fully responsible and subject to punishment as an adult; and a child between seven and fourteen as falling into one or the other of the two groups just described, according to whether or not he possessed the required criminal intent in connection with the commission of the prohibited act. Severe punishments—even death—were sometimes inflicted upon young children for what now seem to us to be very minor infractions of the law.

Approximately thirty-five years ago, the first juvenile courts were established. Since then, they and the philosophy which underlies them have spread throughout the nation. This development has been an uneven one, however. There were some who questioned and there are some who still question its wisdom. Rarely do we find, in any state, uniformly high standards of performance from one county to another.

It is well to remember that a fundamental struggle has been going on between the legalistic thinkers and the social worker group. The lawyers have more or less grudgingly surrendered this area—in fact, in parts of the country they have not yet surrendered it; and even in the federal system there is as yet no provision for a modern disposition of juvenile delinquents, except by outright transfer of cases to state courts—where adequate juvenile courts exist. Although a few lawyers participated understandingly in the early beginnings and later development of juvenile courts and probation systems, many of them have been opposed and are still opposed to these departures from the philosophy and method of the common law. It would be well for those who suggest the exclusive handling of juvenile delinquents by schools or by social agencies to remember that only the concept of a "court" together with the rationalization of . . .

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