PREVENTING THE DEVELOPMENT OF CRIMINALS
But let us not blink the fact that in the vast majority of cases, the bandit of today is the juvenile delinquent of yesterday and the innocent child of the day before yesterday. -- KIRCHWEY
The best cure for diseases is their prevention. This applies equally to those of the biological organism and to those of social behavior. It is self-evident that the only road to prevention lies through an understanding of causes and through their control. The research student, therefore, who is motivated by no other than a desire to satisfy his scientific curiosity respecting phenomena needs no defense in addition to this -- assuming that he not only gains an understanding but passes it on to others who may find something otherwise useful in it.
Some of the results of efforts at research into the causes of criminal behavior have been set out in PART I of this volume. The attainment of completion in this direction is a never-ending process, but enough has been accomplished and confirmed to afford a fairly adequate notion of the points at which preventive measures need to be applied.
The conclusions of research students support the common-sense view that in the nature of the home and the neighborhood are at once the primary roots of criminal careers and the first defenses against their development. This holds alike in those states in which the family is the social unit both in theory and in practice and in those in which the state itself is regarded as the theoretical parent. The mere fiat that a state is in loco parentis does not make it the parent and moreover no state has yet tried the experiment of putting itself into the place of the parent excepting in isolated cases as when a guardian is legally appointed or when the court assumes responsibility for a juvenile delinquent or dependant.
In every case the criminal man or woman was a child before he was recognized as a criminal, and it was the home in the persons of father and mother, and perhaps others, that made the first contacts with