EXPLOITING OUR CHILDREN
Ever since men began to take count of the human cost of the factory system any discussion of the exploitation of children has at once suggested child labor. To-day, however, thanks, on the one hand, to the depression which has given us an army of child tramps, and, on the other, to the codes which have reduced the volume of child labor, we are becoming vividly aware that the children of the United States pay for the follies and crimes of our social order a price even greater than compulsion to spend the golden hours of youth at long monotonous toil.
Most Americans have listened to so much complacent boasting of all that we do for children that they have become inclined to accept it uncritically. As a people we are almost as sentimental about children as we are about mothers. We have child welfare days and weeks; we maintain a free educational system from the kindergarten to the state university; even the American Legion warns us outside every town to protect the children; and the Rotary Club can usually be trusted to back the boy and girl Scouts. Probably the chief, perhaps the only substantial, advance that we have made in what we call "criminal justice" has been in the field of children's courts and probation work.
Nevertheless, there is an ugly side of the picture even in the last-named field. Most of our reform schools, no matter by what name they are called, are nurseries of vice and crime, recruiting grounds and training camps for gangsters and racketeers, far more to be relied on to