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The following program is produced by the University of Michigan broadcasting service under a grant in aid from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters juvenile delinquency. The second programme on this subject from the series human behavior social and medical research produced by the University of Michigan broadcasting service with special assistance from the Mental Health Research Institute of the University of Michigan. These programs have been developed from interviews with men and women who have the too often unglamorous job of basic research. Research in medicine the physical sciences social sciences and the behavioral sciences. The people you will hear today are Dr. Leon EISENBERG of the John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore Maryland. Dr. Helen Whitmer of the Department of Health Education and Welfare in Washington D.C. And Dr. Benjamin Bonser of New York City. And my name is Glenn Philips. The problem of juvenile delinquency requires the thought some effort so many professions.
One is the psychiatrists. I asked Dr Ball sir how he found his interest in this field. I got into it starting in 1933 at the psychiatric institute in the Columbia Medical Center. And I was there in training in psychiatry at that time. When I started work with children in March of that year 1933 we had youngsters in the hospital up to the age of 14 not older. And then we age group started again at 18 or 19 and in between there were no patients and this intrigued me. Then in the AL patient Department working again with children I found that again these were excluded and the reasons given me was that there was very little work done with these people and there was no one there to supervise me if I try to work with them. And I decided to try to work with him anyway and I've been doing so ever since and
working with youngsters who are referred to places like the hospital life psychiatric and suture we say the problems are usually those of academic failure or behavioral difficulty not to the point where they become court cases or anything alas are but where they are not able to get along adequately in a school setting shall we say. These are one group of complaints that we get and the second group are those of emotional illnesses primarily namely individuals who have great fears and cannot leave the house because they become tense anxious fearful or youngsters who cannot ride the subway or youngsters who can't ride the elevators or youngsters who have all sorts of complaints relative to one organ after another stomach skin.
Belongs in the sense of asthma allergies that sort of thing now and there are in this same second group are also those youngsters who are almost withdrawn from the world who live in the clubs who have no relationship to reality but talk to themselves. Pay attention to non-existent voices that sort of thing. These are the most seriously the group I ask Dr Ball sir if he would define further the psychiatric needs of these groups and he answered. Now this second group are the ones who needs psychiatric care or psychiatric treatment. No such treatment may involve any one of a number of things. Certainly it might involve today some of the newer pharmacological preparations which help us. Certainly it also would involve without exception the family if family is available is at all available. You put it that way. And finally it would involve the youngster himself as well as his school
setting or any other environmental factors or people that might be available to help in the treatment. It's a matter of using everything available but it takes trained physicians to deal with this kind of the illness and it may this mean psychiatrist who had worked with children and understand the meaning of list of their complaints or symptoms and how to deal with. In my opening remarks I imagine that many professions had to give their efforts in combat in juvenile delinquency. Is it possible that lay individuals can be of assistance. Dr Bolter commented Yes it frequently is possible to give a child sufficient support by being interested considerate of the child. Just that alone may be sufficient for the child to go wallow in his own way necessarily developing an adequate personality so that he or she can meet with whatever their
problems are emotional stresses they're going to come up against. As a matter of fact let me qualify that for you just a bit. Working in school systems most private schools and public schools. It has been possible certainly in my experience over the last more than a quarter century to work with teachers or masters in schools and never see the child. There are many many instances in which I have talked to masters about our youngsters going into the situation or problem with them and has advised the teacher or master how to deal with the youngster in terms of helping him or her with them with their problems. I never seen the child and quite frequently or more frequently than not gotten good results with these youngsters through these techniques. There are other times for example when I've seen
youngsters who had emotional problems of all degrees particularly in the milder ones and have worked through the parents without treating the child. This to happen. There are other instances where it's essential to work with one parent alone and not see the child. I mention this because there is no specific phone lation you don't always do just exactly this and by way of treatment one has to be free enough flexible enough to treat the situation as it as one sees it. In discussion in preparation for these programs it was mentioned frequently the children go through periods of growth. I question Dr. ball's or Dr. Eisenberg and Dr. Whitmore about this and if these periods of exploration were normal and if they should be accepted here are their answers. First Doctor Bolter said if you work with these youngsters particularly in the teenage
years you will find one fundamentalism that is constantly recurring amongst them namely they want to be told what the limits are and they want to know for certain that if they exceed those limits that they're going to have their knuckles rapped to put it mildly. Now this is the best thing that society that parents and doctors teachers can do for these youngsters. They indicated one of the limits are and stick by it. Not I don't mean that one necessarily has to carry an absolutely rigid baseball bat in your hand why you're doing this this isn't necessary. A mild degree of fluctuation or capacity to fluctuate is something that one should have anyway. But if the children know that you mean it and they know that you mean right is right and wrong is wrong. This morning anything else can help them. If this is done during his exploratory adolescent period they will
more quickly get over the delinquent behavior if you will much more quickly. They may do it even if you don't but they're far better able to if you would tell them lips Legionella boundaries. Dr. Eisenberg replied. Certainly so during the period of adolescence this is a time when one finds oneself in the process of finding oneself involves trying things that are different and sometimes daring. I think this illustrates one of the regrettable consequences of urbanisation and that is in a city there are fewer daredevil pranks that you can do without causing harm to person or property and seem to be true in the smaller communities of a pastor in rural surroundings. It's as though youngsters were surrounded by so many more opportunities for getting into trouble than is true for those who avoid the crowded conditions of the city. The problem that arises is that most of the incident you describe was without further affecting the lives of the youngsters involved. The very fact that
a book is made on a kid and he has a court record may sometimes count against him should he be involved in a similar second preg and how he begins to look like a repeating offender so that before an actual record is established for a child one should be quite certain that it's a incident of sufficient severity to warrant such treatment. And Dr. Whitmore commented in this way to the question would better knowledge of these boundaries be helpful. Yes I would think that. That would be helpful. I mean it would it would save parents from getting so worried anxious upset about manifestations. Somebody once said that the thing that really worries parents is not that the child is doing a certain thing which they disapprove of at the moment but a great fear that he will continue to do it all his life.
And if they could know that some of this is transitory. And not to be too upset about at the time. Pediatricians use this term. To use this term but this idea in the. What do they call it. Doesn't matter what it's called but at any rate it's a time to running ahead of time letting parents know. That rats is apt to be coming up. This is particularly true with the first 6 5 6 years of life when change is so rapid that they are all talk with a person bringing in a year old baby and they are able to say well now within the next three to six months you'll probably find that he's going to do this that and the other thing. This is to be expected. Dr. Whitmore raised a very important question that of communication between
teenagers and adults. I ask her how important this really is and she illustrated her answer with a personal incident. Are you sure it's a very real one. It's a real one between generations. It's a real one between people of different cultures. It's perhaps a real one between people of the opposite sex. One thing really here in the bureau are interested in is. Having. A series of studies about teenagers and their. Common ordinary everyday life and interests and values and their. Aspirations where it where they're wanting to go and watch. A movie because this communication is so difficult that we're not sure we really will even understand teenagers nowadays. And there's no point in talking about why some are delinquent and why some.
Are illegitimately pregnant and all that sort of thing. If we don't know what the common ordinary run of kids are doing and thinking. So. There isn't an idea whether it's any different now than it always was that we don't know about our. Present teen age kids who can't talk to them very well. I'm not sure that the Romans and Greeks didn't also have that same problem of each generation you know thinks the younger generations going to the dogs and. So. Never the less I am sure there is a real communication problem and. Maybe there's more so in our kind of a society. You know when you had. A simpler kind of social system in which fathers work with their sons.
From the time they were five six years old you know little boys followed around after the father saw what he was doing took on a few little tiny jobs more and more as they got better. Bigger. The same for the girls. I'm not sure this lack of communication with is great. But there is a great go. Now between children and adults. Little kids say. They can't even figure out what their fathers do. Many of them mean if you're a railroad engineer or if you are a. Truck driver or something like that a little youngster can see. What you as a father do. But when you go to an office and sit there and shuffle papers around and dictate from people come drifting in. Even if you take them to your office it's pretty hard for him to. Go hear my son's explanation of what I do I can't follow what. I don't know I
could never keep up with. The same nephew of mine when he was in first grade they had a crush in the family. That's when crisis in the family stark nowadays and then he was asked what his father does he said oh he didn't have a father. Well that threw the teacher a bit but he said I have an uncle. OK the teacher says What did your uncle do. All he says he sells tomatoes. Everybody looked aghast when he came home and told us he said Dick sold tomatoes. Reese and Ryan to say that he said well I don't know what Dick does he goes to an office to reset or Dick's a lawyer. Whaley says What's a lawyer so he said I just thought it was some sort maybe because I was too late. But I thought that was a real wonderful illustration of how far a secure old. This note faced conception. So there's no communication between the adults there say he's a lawyer that
communicated that idea to a six year old. Similarly maybe they say things that don't communicate too well to back to Dr. bolster I ask him if it would be possible to determine by some method the various patterns that a child will normally follow. And he said Your question is a wonderful one because actually we don't know enough about what sounds a healthy normal youngster do during this family adolescent period. How much is normal which is abnormal which is delinquent which is not. For example every child male or female steals normally you may say what the heck are you talking about you don't normally steal. Why do you have you do this. Age usually is around the age of six or seven and it's a transient thing. Fire setting normally occurs in most human and they become interested in matches and fires. This normally occurs at around the age of four three and a half or four to have somewhere in that range. This is anti-social behavior this is only one behavior that is
normal. We don't know enough about the normal ranges. The Yale group gives zelo and their group at Yale have tried I have. Published books on le child from 1 to 5 a child from 5 to 10 then the child during adolescent years up to 16 trying to outline the normal activities the normal behavior of children during this period this is a step in the right direction. The thing that's sad is that the dissemination of this information about normal behavior of adolescents in there are growing in this period is not general. It's a limited kind of a thing. And this particularly to people in the educational field teachers this particularly to physicians generally by large a doctor does not know what is normal for a by way of behavior for an adolescent. It's a matter of fact many
psychiatrists don't. But I it seems to me that this is an area of the dissemination of information that's of tremendous importance now setting up control groups. Sure by all means of course you have a number of problems that are going to be difficult to meet. If you're setting up study groups of adolescence in terms of their behavior you've got to have your control groups to match the family background very carefully. This means you're going to have to have broken home situations or children from them. This means you're going to have to have homes in which parents might be away both parents away working. It might be a matter of having controls in terms of an adoption. What are the economic limitations. All of these are just minimal factors would have to be started but it could be done. For me I just take it a step further again with my long answers this way. If you will
understand adolescence that whole period. This is the business where the juvenile term comes from adolescence anywhere from 12 to 21 as far as I'm concerned in Lahad period starting with that period the child gives up home and the parents and find substitutes for both. No I don't mean he runs away from home necessarily but all adolescence all children at adolescence have to begin to cut some of their ties from home. They have to begin to find substitutes for papa substitutes for mama and substitutes even for their brothers and sisters. This is normal this is human. It's during this period of substitution for the home. When he did his show essential for the parents and the teachers to again indicate again indicate this is right this is wrong. Dr. Eisenberg discussed briefly the relationship between juvenile delinquency and broken home.
Well one recent study which I happened to see just a few weeks ago called attention to the fact that it wasn't so much the broken home in which their say might only be one parent as it was the home in which both parents were present but constantly quarreling struggling with one another disagreeing about the discipline of the child in which neither parent was able to fulfill an adequate role so that the stereotype of the broken home is certainly overdone. People who are divorced need fear that just because of that fact alone the child is destined to a career of delinquency. One good parent can be far more satisfactory than two parents who can't get along like perhaps two good parents. So I thought Yes that's right. Certainly one would prefer an intact home with both present. But where for one reason or another it's impossible to resolve the differences between the parents.
Separation may be the best solution for the welfare of all. In any event they point I'd like to call attention to it's not merely the broken home but the quality of the home that really is the crucial factor. And these were the comments by Dr Boltz are on the same subject that of broken homes and juvenile delinquency. It is called There's no question but what children can come from a broken home and be perfectly fine and responsible citizens productive. Some of the finest of citizens certainly can be this. However a broken home particularly before the child reaches the age of 10 produces an injury to that child and injury and. Gives the child and had it in motion and the stress of such magnitude that he's got a harder job to develop normally than a youngster who is not exposed to that. Now let me give you just two sets of statistics to prove what I'm trying to say.
Over a two year period I studied. This situation the number of youngsters in two private schools who came from broken homes. That is in the population of the school. For example in one school 25 percent of the boys came from broken homes. It was a private school. You know another private school 20 percent of the boys came from broken homes in a public school system in a city of seventy five thousand twelve percent came from broken homes in the high school area in there in that age group. In my private practice and school practice during the last period of time the same two years 64 percent of the youngsters that I had to see came from broken homes. That's one set of statistics. In other words while the average or major situation in terms of broken homes in any group is 25 percent at the most.
Sixty four percent of the youngsters that I see are from broken homes. Then you're a captain Hobbs AJ s working for the Army as a psychiatrist in a rehabilitation center. Crazy all the time. K R I L S H he I m in Germany had five hundred and seventy army men in this disciplinary camp for rehabilitation. He found that 67 percent of these people came from broken homes. It's interesting that the numbers are so close to the ones that I have found. And he didn't know anything about what I had found. I then asked Dr Ball so if he would engage in a bit of mass therapy so to speak by giving advice to parents who are divorced. He said this that the two parents have a respect for each other in spite
of the divorce. If this can be done they respect each other but they have learned that living together is something that is deleterious to either or both of them. That this is something that applies to them but has nothing to do with the children that each individually loves the child or children but that the problem is their own and as has nothing whatever to do with the child in the Charlies no way responsible for but that there is a mutual respect one for the other. But it just is one of the situations in which they cannot part and continue together as man and wife. This would be the healthiest advice that I could give to parents of a broken home. If a parent die then let the surviving parent must make it clear to the children that the children were loved by the parent who is dead. That latter parent will love the one who died and I are the
best of that parent had nothing whatever to do with the children they were in no way responsible. This must be reiterated again and again. The final group actually I didn't mention this in terms of a broken home but what about adopted children. I see large numbers of those frequently all too frequently. Children are adopted as some means of keeping a marriage intact usually usually because the mother or the first Her mother is afraid her marriage will go on the rocks because she has no children and therefore will adopt children to hold the marriage together. The children are used to. Adopted children are frequently used as instruments against one by one parent against the other. This I've seen again and again I've seen children told repeatedly by parents one or the other you were adopted you were adopted you were adopted I'm telling you of this so that when one of your
playmates says it you won't be surprised forgetting that by this constant repetition they are telling the child you're not my natural child. You're not my natural child you were adopted and that child like most adopted children. Thanks in terms of why did my parents give me up. Dr. bolster continued by discussing the need for communication of ideas and methods breaking it down to simple language. Actually there's nothing miraculous or missed there about this whole area of psychiatry really there isn't. There's no need for fancy words or special words. Common sense is really at the bottom of it. Plus observation of what has happened in recognition of the meaning of delinquency as a symptom. Actually if this thing can be clarified and a constructive channel is outlined adequately It seems to me that from a humanitarian standpoint
is one of the finest jobs that could possibly be done. And if medicine can help in any way certainly it's most worthwhile. Dr. Bowser then concluded by commenting on the responsibility of the communication media. Well it isn't all black and white there are occasional programs that are presented on television or radio indicating what is being done at an isolated place in terms of working through some of these problems. But it is an isolated thing. It is I agree with you in the sense that the emphasis is on the other. This is what's happening look what's happening to our civilization our families our cities our homes. The emphasis is there. There is very little emphasis in my experience in public communication systems only other ameliorative the areas of understanding and what to do about it within with with the language so that the average
person can understand it and not somebody with an IQ of whether mental age of six but somebody with a mental age that's normal and a little higher. In other words have a matter of respecting who your audience really can be on this and is going to be an explaining in very definite terms what is done what programs I have been established how have they work what have they found how does one go about this. Joining Dr. Benjamin Bowles there in this program on juvenile delinquency were Dr. Helen Whitmer and Dr. Lee on ice and bird. Next week you will hear Professor George C. Homans of Harvard University and Professor Alex babbelas of Stanford University as they discuss man in a group on the next program from the series human behavior social and medical research consultant for this program was Dr. Stuart Finch of the University of Michigan Medical School. And we extend our special thanks to the Mental
Health Research Institute of the University of Michigan and Philip speaking asking that you join us next week and thanking you for being with us at this time. This program has been produced by the University of Michigan broadcasting service under a grant in aid from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is the NEA E.B. Radio Network.
Behavioral science research
Juvenile delinquency, part 2
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University of Michigan
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program, the second of two parts, focuses on juvenile delinquency and how behavioral science can help assess and improve it. Guest are: Benjamin Harris Balser, MD; Leon Eisenberg, MD, Johns Hopkins Hospital; and Helen Witmer, Ph.D., Office of Health, Education and Welfare.
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A documentary series on behavioral science and its role in understanding human health.
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Host: Cowlin, Bert
Interviewee: Balser, Benjamin Harris, 1905-
Interviewee: Eisenberg, Leon, 1922-2009
Interviewee: Witmer, Helen Leland
Producing Organization: University of Michigan
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 61-36-4 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:34
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Chicago: “Behavioral science research; Juvenile delinquency, part 2,” 1961-06-20, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 21, 2024,
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