CHAPTER XXIV
THE UNMARRIED MOTHER

WE HAVE seen earlier that the affixing of a label--even of a correct label--has no practical bearing upon prognosis and treatment, and that a classification of this sort is not a social diagnosis. This truth has been illustrated in the dealings of social agencies with the mother of an illegitimate child. There are few tasks requiring more individualization, and there are few in which there has been so little.

Mrs. Sheffield, in the questionnaire regarding an Unmarried Mother which follows, aims to bring out first, under the captions The Mother and The Father, certain facts of environment and early influence together with the outstanding traits of these two people which may throw light on their standards of conduct and habits of thought. Although, in our treatment of an unmarried woman or girl in this situation, we are liable to overlook her father, it is obvious that his characteristics and what went to mould them are quite as significant socially as those of her mother. The information may point the way not only to effective treatment in the particular case, but also to measures for mass betterment in the community.

The last part of the questionnaire calls for the more immediate explanation of the girl's or woman's situation and for facts bearing on the identity and responsibility of the man. For various reasons the child's father only too frequently escapes responsibility. Evidence of paternity may not be convincing, the man may disappear, or the social agency--occupied with many other tasks-- may feel that the small amount which the mother would be likely to receive does not warrant the labor of establishing the man's whereabouts and of bringing him to trial. The question has other aspects, however. Even small sums, if required whenever paternity can be established, will have an influence in modifying

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