Juvenile Courts in the United States

By Herbert H. Lou | Go to book overview

PREFACE

THE American juvenile court is a subject on which many books might be written from different points of view and approaches. It is not the purpose of this study to advocate any particular theory, nor is its purpose to solve unsolved problems, or to furnish a statutory summary or statistical tabulation, or to describe case stories. Some of these phases still remain to be studied, while others are already covered by existing treatises. This book is designed to present a critical account of the juvenile court in all of its more important aspects-- philosophical, legal, historical, diagnostic, procedural, administrative, and sociological. It aims to explain its principles, its development, its present status, its forms of organization, its actual working, and its significant tendencies.

A thorough examination of the whole juvenile-court movement is, I believe, pertinent and timely, especially when there is so much discussion of so-called "crime waves" and of the inefficiency of the existing legal methods which cope with them. This treatise aims not only to present a fair picture of this quarter-century old institution and to contribute toward a better understanding of the subject, but also to point out instrumentally, though incidentally, a possible way to a better handling of adult offenders in criminal courts.

The study enters a field of social knowledge and social organization in which a tremendous body of scientific information has developed during recent years. Universities, training schools for social workers, and numerous other agencies have shown an ever-increasing interest in the study of the problems of the child. Because of this, a better understanding of both the child and his behavior is much more possible now than ever before. Although the purpose of this book is primarily to analyze the machinery, legal and social, with which we handle children's problems, it would be of little value and incomplete without some reference to the causations and the prevention of delinquency and other abnormalities of children. For this reason, I have deemed it necessary to include in this study much that relates to the sociological and psychological aspects of the juvenile court.

A book of this nature does not pretend to be an exhaustive treatise. Much descriptive material and many statutory citations are purposely omitted. No attempt has been made to

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