Exploring the child's world; The presenting problem
The child is father to the man as we hope for a world of men of good will. We must look to the conditions of the child's world to achieve it. So we search for the laws ways and means the sources of the capable spontaneously whole adult. It is not strange that the world of the disturbed child throws light on childhood in general. Although Father Francis Duffy chairman of the Department of Sociology at Duquesne University was not at first looking for this light when he started working with the disturbed child. He found however that it is not that the disturbed a delinquent child is completely removed from society. Rather that his position is more extreme and so its obviousness offers us a sharper clearer insight into the world of children to share the fruit of his research funded duffing into Cain University presents a series of recorded interviews with delinquent children followed by a short discussion in which the child and his problems are explored for insight. Here is Father Duffy to preview the problems of this child who speaks in exploring the
child's world. Father Duffy. Dr. Michael balance of England has written an interesting book on the doctor the patient and the illness in it he suggests a phenomenon which he calls a presenting problem. We often see this operate in all areas of life. He indicates that often mothers bringing their little children because the child has emotional problems. He said in his experience he found that in one third of the cases the child did have an emotional problem in one third of the cases the mother had an emotional problem the child did not. And in the rest of the cases both mother and child did have some kind of emotional affliction. We often find that delinquent children come for counseling. They want to advice on some pretty deep problems but they present a different problem. And this is their disguise this is their entry. They want to change their religion. The following interview was held in the Allegheny County detention home with Mary Louise. She's a 13 year old
white child of Polish Irish extraction. Her father abandoned the family of three children. This girl makes her third appearance for running away from home. She has a married sister but feels that she can't be of any help to her. There's a crippled brother who appears to pull all the mother's attention and sympathy in a way he dominates the family because the whole household is set around his comfort. The mother is employed the father has run away first from his mother and now from his wife and children. In effect this child is copying him. Let's listen and see. Her idea in life as we further explore the child's world. I wanted to talk to you about this lady I live with. I wanted me to be a Protestant and I want to why. You know because they I told my mother that I've been going to the Catholic Church here and you know well she told me. I told this lady you know and she says that that's who you're going to do on me then I'll just
have to forget about you and who I don't want to do that because you were never going to live with this lady you know I do. I was living with my mother too she came back from New York and then I got into trouble you know about going to school and everything and you know then I ran away and that's how I got into this trouble here. And in this way she said she was you know didn't want to have anything to do with me if I went to the Catholics who might say. And my mother you know she said she can't support me. I mean yes she's working but she only gets forty eight a week and she has to support my brother too. He's 18. He doesn't work you know he's getting a job. Well I just wanted some advice about what to do. You know I mean I want to change but if you think that advice would help you. Oh I want to be a Catholic that you and I just want you know. So where does this leave us. Well I guess it leaves you with my mother for something I don't know but maybe if I go the orphan the agent told me 18 and they go out and get a job and go live with my mother and support her
too. You get along well with your mother. Well not too good because she's going back at me I mean she's she's sort of mixed up about was she didn't want me to go out and live with this lady and this lady just took me at my mother's and. But you weren't getting along well with your mother and how were you not too good. But that's that's mainly how my brother was how there's something wrong with my peer. She took him to a psychiatrist and he says he couldn't find anything wrong with him. He's just a cripple from birth and he couldn't understand things because it was your brother Karen. Yeah your mother too. But she wants me to be Catholic. She was never counted. My father was. What's happened to your father. He left my mother there to separate on me. Do you remember him. He left when I was two. My mother thinks I should be a Catholic because you know from the time I was two until now I know to about five years ago I was brought up in a Catholic in an orphanage.
I was taught the Catholic religion and so she thinks I'd be a Catholic. You feel that if your mother really wanted to she could have you home with her. Because what I did say I had to my hearing first. What did you do this time. I ran away and played hooky. Where'd you go when you ran. I went I went to my girlfriends and stay all night. She married me. She's only 14. Cheryl addict you know she was here when her parents get in touch with your mother. Her parents didn't know I was there. I mean just her mother's there. How could you be in her house and not let the mother know that you are there. Shame your mother goes to work and she she comes home and she never goes in a room with. I was just sitting there. What did you do for food. Cheryl brought me into the room and when I ran when I played hookey you know we went down.
Before this what was the trouble. Before. Oh it was just she was just touchy because she was mad because I went to live with this lady friend of hers and sort of worried about my brother going to that home for the handicapped. She was another place I think I think was run by the Shriners and then he went into this place for adults because the other place you know keep him after 16 years time is going to get a job there. He'll make about thirty or forty dollars a week I think. This yes will help my mother at times. I just wanted if you had a solution to the problem you know what I should do or say. Well you have limited choices what can you do. I don't know my worker you know she seems she seems to be it. You know me going to a Catholic orphanage to make you happy. Oh yeah that was has found me perfect to just lay. She's a good friend of my mother and she's pretty wealthy.
Well it seems that you could almost leave her out of your planning even if she has money it doesn't seem that she's going to give you any. Well my my workers are the same thing. She says we're going to leave her out of this one. I don't know. But I guess we he and I me the Catholic religion to her is nothing and you know I would like to be a chair like you know you have to make a decision and you'll have to give up one or the other. Yeah well I give up her first. You don't get along very well with your mother. I don't know I'm like a lot of go out after school. I can watch French and trust me when I first came here she only showing me out front. I don't know why but then after after that I went and I disobey her I went to my girlfriends. Maybe she feels that some boy will treat you the way your father treated her. Now no I don't because my sister was out with lots of boys and she's a nice girl.
You couldn't very well live with her I take it. Oh she said she'd like to but she just didn't think this year anyway. Maybe next year because they're buying the furniture and all that. When they get settled you'll be OK. Next one the family is really tough especially when I'm growing you know. I could babysit help with cooking and housework but she'd like to do it but she can't this year anyway. Who else has ever wanted you. This lady you had me. She wants you. Under her conditions she told me she told my workers. I told my workers that I didn't think a wark I mean you know I said I just might as well go somewheres and Tom would have to be on my own instead of you know keeping keep going because I know I'll just keep going him in the same thing because you know identity for and the way it is it's just my head I guess.
Does your mother know much. Oh yes she's always picking on me. You know in what way. I mean I can't even look at my bedroom window. She says the bed includes or something. That's what I think anyway. She she won't tell me why. She says she's pretty nervous all the time. I think she's mostly worried about my brother. See why he's in a good home and he is bored and you know that the pay anything. She never had another husband or boyfriend that you know you know that that's just good about it. I'm surprised actually you know why would you be surprised. Well I mean she is separated you know and living a lie. She has nobody or anything. Maybe that's why she nags you. It is I don't have it. She says to me after living a lie she used to live alone when I was working each. My brother was a trying hers and my sister was married and I was in the orphanage. Then my mother was and she had some
sort of trouble with her veins or something and when she was operated on and well I have to take this you know she took us and we live in the US and what does a girl feel that she needs it but you don't get it. I think she is a little bit afraid to go places and do things you know and I think that's what that's what this lady I live with fell to. That's the only thing I agree with there and she wanted me to forget about my mother for get I can't do them my gosh. There also is a girl maybe Sarge freedom. She needs love and affection you know things like that. How much of this did you care too much. I mean you know my brother got it all. I guess that's why he is away you know because he's just spoiled. He got everything he wanted. That's just what made me more jealous I mean yeah the thing is he used to go out to go he's to be able to go to the shows almost every single day after school. Every
single day and I want to go maybe on Saturday or Sunday and I would even be allowed to go. Your mother couldn't seem to refuse him but she could refuse you wouldn't it. Yeah that's just it. My mother told me that when I was a little girl my father used to like me much more my brother you don't have him anymore can't play you can't climb and I'm missing my daughter. Yeah sometimes I wonder just plays close to me that it is just that you know there's something but I just I just can't stand or something. Maybe you're saying that this lady is too possessive with me. Maybe she wants to own you to control you totally swallow you. Well her husband in on this too you know. He wanted me to live with him and have a nice time that she was displaying thinking she's about 15 and a half and 56 or something like that and they said they were too old to you know look after me you know.
Would it make them younger if you became Protestant. You know well maybe now a traveler. I mean is that they say they're too old to take you if you're Catholic but they're they're not too old to take if you're Protestant or another way they really don't want you. That's part of that. You know when I just feel like going downtown I wanted to be a Catholic. Did you ever feel like harming her you know. Coming back on one now you know she would let me go and see my mother over the weekend. You know was it a special reason she just just didn't feel like driving over and. So I was in bed and I said to myself I can get my hands on her. I was just so now if you ever feel alone you know. I I felt like I was I mean that the nobody around me wanted me to know this lady wanted me for was you know is to teach me a preist religion or just throw me out.
That's what I thought sometimes this kind of makes you feel mixed up. Well since you have thought about running away have you thought much about dying. You know it I feel like killing myself. I was just fed up with everything and I am. I thought to myself life's going to be hard from here on in. Well suicide is another form of running away is it not another form of running away. Yeah away from life. Yes but sometimes I wonder why I did it. My mother was mean to me and everything. Maybe that's why sometimes I feel I just wanted to get away from it all and stay away from the night and you know the main reason why. I'm afraid of my mother. Well I'm deathly afraid of my mother because she takes a broom and beat me with and that's why I didn't get home and I was scared
she laughs. She lets me go in and I go to my room I pray she doesn't do anything and then she comes and gives me a good talking to and she says you know if you do one more time you're not getting back you know. She says you don't want me to come back. This makes you feel better. They feel better and worse. Yeah I just think she doesn't want me you know. That you ever want you. She must have you know taken from the orphanage. You know more than one time but I'm not blaming it on her I mean I've done a lot. But you know I mean I mean I deserve what I have now but I don't know what's the matter with me. Well maybe you do these things to get her to say she does want you you know just once that she does love you she wouldn't say that. She just said the opposite. So once in a while we have we have nice moments you know. Tre very. But I'm always doing
something to aggravator and it's really nothing really bad. You know it's just the little things like my leave my clothes on the floor and I pick him up and that really gets her all steamed up and well you know that's that's why I think I get on her. I don't think she'll ever come to me more than she will my brother. He's a he's a good healthy boy. He's just crippled she just thinks it will never improve. You know he hasn't been treated normally. Not that I'm jealous or anything you know at this moment or anything. Well at this moment he's not around. OK. And now joining from Gadhafi to discuss the features of this child's world is his guest Professor Chester Ager's ack of the Sociology Department and Ukraine university here are Father Duffy And Professor just like. Professor. Did you get the impression that this girl came with a kind of a bogus problem that
she used to introduce her to her real problems and get out her real problems if we mean by bogus problem the conflict over religious preference that's what I guess is what you're referring to. Oh I think so. Here however I do get some impression that the girl is searching for a system of values that. She's had some difficulty in discovering for herself a stable system of values and she somehow identifies this way with the Catholic Church. Well. As you well know in some of the study of prisoners in prison psychology They often the world will turn to the Catholic chaplain because they often feel that they can have some advantage in this. And so I don't know in a case of our runaway non. Sexual delinquent in this case whether. This operator or not it would be interesting to ask
do you find that very often children will will turn to religion and maybe to two chaplains because not so much they're searching for religion but they feel that this is maybe an advantage to them and try to get them less of a sentence or being dismissed or not being sent to the kind of place that they may be sent to or do you feel that this does not operate well there. I do. I think it operates both in the armed services and in this prison situation. Sometimes you'll find people who are in difficulties that they will come to the chaplain for either reassurance or they will come for new data. But very very often so you'll find that people will come just to manipulate you to use you as a sort of a key to open the door for them so that they can be out loose where they want to be and get in some more trouble. You know what strikes me about this case I think that we can talk a little bit about the
relationship of home to go in Quincy today since we have taken in our previous programs other approaches and this particular case what strikes me is that. There are several things in the home that add to this girl's problem. One is that the mother shows a clear preference for the defective child and this sets up a kind of sibling rivalry between this girl and her brother. Also the mother gives no opportunity for the girl to identify her self. With the mother with some kind of in other words a female figure and then a father is not present so she can't even identify herself with the father because I think that in some families where the girl may not have the fire so strong that her mother at least she has a father in this particular instance we find that the girl doesn't have that opportunity. She's rejected by our mother or at least her mother makes it extremely
difficult for her to identify herself with her. And then there's no male figure to identify with her. And since she seems to be a girl who is searching for a values. Then if she could identify herself with some adult I she would probably imitate the values of that adult and find those values in this case of our. Youngster here she doesn't seem to have a need or a system of values nor an adult from home that she could learn very intimately. The system of values and therefore I think that in effect she's coming to you. The interviewer and counselor too to find this kind of identification and values. Yes and her situation is further complicated by the fact that the adults that she knows are further confusing her in our value seeking seeking for something into which to sink her anchor. And this is in a religious vein in
that the mother doesn't appear to want or the mother has the brother and that's enough for the mother. Then there's another lady who wants her. I should say I has a system in which the child is rejecting at the time but she is half undecided as to whether she should take the Protestant religion. And she's asking somebody else to decide for her. Ordinary as you say it would if she had a father she could take this up with him and I'm sure that the problem would even have arisen if that were so. Yes. The girl. Has many conflicts and her conflicts seem to be not only. From her person but also a conflict from home and in a case of juvenile delinquency. The child may be in conflict with his society and then find himself in conflict not only in a case of such an intimate institutions as the home but then
be in conflict with all the people in that home and she seems to be in conflict with her brother. She seems to be conflict in conflict with her mother and she seems to be in conflict with the lady that she's staying and so that she has no one to turn to and so she turns sometimes as in this case to a stranger. Is this unusual or is this again one of those common characteristics of children in trouble not only hard delinquent But in trouble. Otherwise let's say trouble in school or trouble with their parents but don't become delinquent. I think it's quite a common thing for four children in a situation to want to to have somebody with whom they can talk this their difficulties and problems and worries and apprehensions over and very often be because of the home situation here the child is deprived of this so much so that very often children will tell you I have nobody that I can talk it over with in a sense that there are people physically present but they are not listeners the ones that are physically present. These people
won't even let you complete a sentence they interrupt. They give you direction they give you guidance they give you correction. They give you their disapproval but they don't really give you a hearing. And they make very often they have very high ideals for the child alone they exhibit very poor interpersonal relations and social relations and even psychological deficiencies that they have. They lay down bad example but they give very very good advice and I think we have already seen. It isn't so much what the person says that the child is influenced by but but what the person does to whom the child is attached himself. Very easy to get a child to speak Chinese all he really needs is to have to grow up in a Chinese family. But it's very very difficult. If a child is being punished for not speaking Chinese and he doesn't hear anybody speak it maybe we should come back to a theme that I started out What about what seems to be the cause of runaways in this case we see the the runaway is caused maybe by the instability of the home
by sibling rivalry. Are there any other things or are these fairly typical or are what creates our run away. Well I would say there are a lot of elements I'm sure of that go into runaways. One element is that where the the mother and the father tighten the regulations and the child so much that instead of securing a child it squeezes the child out of the home and very often into the arms of somebody else. Another situation is where the child simply can't tolerate the inexcusable environment in which he's being asked to live. One child for example complained that the things in the that they got to eat had odors about them that the child couldn't tolerate he got sick and gagged. And this was because in their icebox he said we just threw everything in as it was and the child was getting sick although the food was wholesome it did have an odor to it and very often where there's a strong disapproval very often where too much is expected of a child without any example given that would that
would lead a child to want to be home whereas these children I think the earlier that in the morning they get out in the late or they can stay out at night that the better they like it. You know on both this tape and the previous one but we had the impression that runaways somehow get into sexual difficulty. I was wondering whether this is a common factor or not that girls will run away also and evidently find themselves in some kind of a sexual difficulty or sexual immorality or so or is this those two things go together. Well I think it's an area that allows for heavy suspicions along those lines even in talking with these children they'll tell you that nothing really happened and if I may point out to them well they say it's not natural suspicion is that something did they admit that that that's that's you would naturally suspect that. But the point is I think that what can you expect to to
meet with when a young girl is roving the streets two or three o'clock in the morning and I scored eight men to pick them up they have something specific in mind and again a lot of these children are very very sophisticated and particularly in the area of language and in the matter how remote this was from their behavior or their own experiences which they would brag about never having had them they would nevertheless brag about them. Yes. I wonder if when this factor of instability of home whether you know some of the problems today are not the result not only that families are broken but maybe mothers and fathers aren't sure as to what their role is supposed to be. I wonder has this come to your attention in dealing with these children because I've all Kasia me run into a situation where I think parents today seem to have great difficulty we can criticize them for this but I think that they do live in a rather difficult world where it's no longer clear as to exactly as what's the role of father and mother I mean
some items are clear and some are vague and some are confused. I wonder that whether part of the instability of home. Comes from the fact that parents aren't fully sure what it means to be a parent for example. I think there's a great deal involved in what you have just said that very often the parent allows a child to define the role of the parent and the child defines define deprived me one word that is give or two words give me and if you don't give me you don't love me. This makes it difficult for the parent to to stand up under the barrage of complaints the child has that you don't do anything for me don't give me anything and particularly where that there's a degree of spoilage I get I'm afraid we've come to the end of another program and we'll look forward to having you back Dr. Joy as I can thanks for being with us again. You have been listening to exploring the child's world in a program in which the child speaks from the French a stuffy chairman of the sociology department at UK
university has conducted the interview with the child and to find the outlines of this world in the discussion with his guest Professor Chester agers Act also at the Department of Sociology at UK a. This has been a production of the radio services a Duquesne University technical direction by Fred McWilliams your announcer has. This one again next week for another in the series exploring the child's world. The interview heard on this program was a recreation exploring the child's world is distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is the
end I ybe Radio Network.
- Exploring the child's world
- The presenting problem
- Producing Organization
- Duquesne University
- WDUQ (Radio station : Pittsburgh, Pa.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- This program focuses on the "presenting problem," or a situation where a different problem is presented by the child than the one they actually need help with.
- Series Description
- Interviews with delinquent and disturbed young people who are encouraged to discuss their experiences and express feelings. To protect individuals, each program is a re-creation of an actual interview using different names and places.
- Broadcast Date
- Media type
Interviewee: Jerzak, Chester A.
Producing Organization: Duquesne University
Producing Organization: WDUQ (Radio station : Pittsburgh, Pa.)
Speaker: Duffy, Francis
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 62-27-4 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- MLA: “Exploring the child's world; The presenting problem.” 1962-07-05. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 8, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-1n7xqg2s>.
- APA: Exploring the child's world; The presenting problem. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-1n7xqg2s