thumbnail of Exploring the child's world; The spider web
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
Oh. 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 of 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 present 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 the child who speaks in exploring the child's world. Father Duffy. We could direct our attention in this program to discussing the delinquent behavior or peculiar behavior of children in trouble. But I wonder if this would be helpful to the children or to the listeners. We would rather cast our
interviews in a direct in the direction of two basic assumptions first that the child is the important element and not his problem not his delinquency and certainly not the interviewer. And second assumption is that the child is troubled in his relationships with the law but that there are other problems aside from delinquency. There are relations with his family under the roof culture we call it. There are difficulties in its relations at school in the community and old natural scientist and sociologist Herbert Spencer. Once compared problems individual and social problems to an iron plate. If an iron plate were to curl up in one corner what should we do about it well the first impulse is to hit it with a hammer. And nothing happened so the second impulse hit it harder. But this only warps the thing for their back. Hitting a curled part on an iron plate makes the problem worse. What it needs is special blows at special places. In other words one must attack the evil by indirect action
in such a case that it needs to be what's called Planet. If we're going to concentrate on delinquency and we could do this would fine however I think that little if anything will emerge. There have been most intensive efforts to discover what has been referred to as the criminal type or the delinquent personality type. To the best of my knowledge these efforts have not been successful. There is no way of administering it series of known tests that will diagnose delinquency or potential delinquency. Delinquency can affect any child. We don't know what the personality factors are. The most I would be willing to admit is that delinquency manifests itself as part of the child's abnormal reactions in his social relations. In those interviews we want to try to find out why children feel so uncomfortable. With accepted and approved ways of acting. People who are significant in the child's environment may have some effect on the child and how the child feels and how the child acts
on his part the child himself has an effect on the feelings and the actions of the people around him his parents teachers schoolmates playmates neighbors police. We're going to try to find out more about the child's feelings and his actions by listening to him as he tells about the things in his life that lead to tension boredom worry. And irritation abnormal need for excitement. Or his need for aggressive activities merely for purposes of identification. I'd like to point out that in the following interview we will meet a 14 year old white boy. He's a Catholic. I would tell you an extraction. He's in the ninth grade public school he has been doing well for the last year in school nor at home. He's been arrested three times on charges that range from truancy through vagrancy drunkenness burglary and more recently a federal offense and a flight to avoid prosecution.
Of greater significance to us. He lives with his married stepsister and his mother a step brother by a former marriage of his mother lives in another city. The mother was married three times. The first husband died in the war. The second husband the father of this boy has been in a state mental institution for about 12 years. Harry now has been told that his father is dead. The third marriage of the mother was to an alcoholic and this ended in divorce about 10 years ago and there is no reference made to this at all. Let's follow Harry now follow his story it'll show us how he feels and how he thinks and how he plans as he thrust back at life. What's your name Harry and how old are you Harry. Fourteen. Work radio and I know.
You must be doing fairly well in school to be at advanced now aren't you. Not this year. Not since I come into ninth grade. But what's happening in one crater didn't happen in the eighth. Well I started to play hooky and then I quit I started to play hooky. And of course I'm not in school I can't do any work so I get bad marks. So I go to truancy then you get behind in your work. Is playing hooky connected with anything else. No I just want not to go to school you know. You know like school. Oh I could you know but after one day you go with another kid and you play hooky and you like it. So you keep on starting it. It so happened that I started to play hooky and I created high C and when you play hooky what happens what do you do. Sometimes I drink or sometimes I just lie around and go downtown. I see and this other one goes with you. Well if there's a boy with me he does. But if there isn't
then no he doesn't. I see and do they serve you drinks. Now how do you get it then. You get a man to go in and get it. He goes in for you. You get in Obama's stance and they go in for you. You tell him you give him 15 cents or something and you go in for you. There's so much drinking at home now isn't there. I mean your parents are your brothers. No they don't drink. Just on occasions you know have a party or something like that and do you actually get drunk too. I only been drunk once. And what happens when you're drinking. Did you get involved in any auto factory thing I think. No no. I just drink it I never get any trouble when I'm drinking. You drink to forget to remember what. I don't know I just drink you know just to get it you know. You know the words you. You like the taste of it. Well no. Just to see if you can get it you know
because you know it's hard to get when you get it. You don't want to waste you just drink it. I see. You were never in trouble before with the police. Well let me see. Not just the first time I was quit drinking. That's the first time I was brought here. That's this year I was picked up drunk. Then the second time I came in for hooky. The third time it was hokey and this time I came with a burglary. So it sort of building up. Would you like to talk about the burglary or would you just assume not talk about it. Well if you want to I don't like what happened there. Well you see I was was there somebody else. Yeah yeah see i didn't go to school that's how I started. I didn't go to school for a long for about a week you know. Then I found out that I was caught you know. So right away I got scared because I had my money on you know right away I got scared so I thought a
break in somewhere and and get money and go into another state. So I thought of skating rink you know and Coke machines and so I broke in there. I see. So I got the money. Me and my my boyfriend Tim. We went on a bus terminal. And he got. This was after the robbery burglary Yeah. And he got scared and he wanted to go home you know cause there was only about $21 anyway. That would have gone far between two you know. Yes he went home and I went by myself. I took a bus to Philadelphia that cost eleven dollars and sixteen cents one way you know. You were alone all this time. Yeah I went there and walked around and finally walked up to a policeman and I told him what I did. And they brought me back here and I'm still here. Did you get gray scared or excited when you when you started to break into this place and you did you break a window or what. The window was open. I
just slid in and you slid into the open window and you let him in. How do you get the machine to open with a screwdriver. He was a nice guy. He forgot about everything. The owner they just made us pay. Actually we took 21 a man's pay 35. I guess he included in the damages that you did to the machines I guess and that was all he forgot about it. But I'm still here cause they won't let me go cause they say I got interstate fly on a flight interstate flight to avoid prosecution. Actually I wasn't running away from the burglary I was running away from the Hokie. Yes. You see. And I'm here and I can get I get a transfer from the school I go to to another school. I see you see. And so my mother is going down tomorrow to talk to the principal of the school. I now go
to. See who can get me transferred to another school. You go to parochial school or public vocational that would be public. And how are things at home. They're all right. I'm all right at home no one bothers me I mean I mind my own business you know it's all right. You have a right a mother and father just a mother. I think that he's dead. How long ago did he die. I don't know I never knew him then just how many children are there in the family. I have an older brother an assistant then Meg. They kind of support my mother because she can't work. She watches the kitchen I mean her grandchildren. There's a much nagging in the house. You know everything's all right at home. A pair to like you surely like me. I like them. You feel embarrassed now that you're in trouble four times and within the same year. Yeah
sure I do. Four times in a month. Oh well when when were these four times one time in December. No way one time in January and two times in February. And once in March I see that your family seemed to be pretty forgiving when you get into these grapes. Yeah they just yell about me and I forget about it. They try not to mention it. You feel that part of you rather enjoys all this and the other pride doesn't when one point decides to run away and the other part gets lonesome and wants to run back. I don't like to do it. I'm just scared you know. I get scared when you do set and then you just do another thing to cover up in other words. Yeah. And now you feel like a person who's been trying to cover up a hole by digging a bigger hole around it. What was about the worst thing ever happened to you. I don't know. Nothing
worse ever happened. I just got kind of you know I'm you can't even see that this is the worst thing that ever happened to me. When did you start to drink. Do you remember last September. Since I come in the ninth grade was this because of some other boys. They get you to try it at a party. No I started to play hooky. That's how I started to play. They played and then they got some and they gave me some. And when I kept on playing hooky and once in a while drinking once I got picked up drunk and this was a different experience than you've ever had before wasn't it. Yeah I can. I never hardly played hooky except once in a great while maybe half a day you know I play. Other than that I never play hooky. I always went to school eight years a great school. How old were you when you started to smoke. I snuck in when I was ill you know. But my mother allowed me. You might as well say this year
she didn't mind she'd like me to do in front of a book. But other than that she didn't say a thing you know. She'd give me money for cigarettes. She treats me all right whenever I want a thing I have to do is ask her and if she can give it to me she will. When you when you ran away did you hope to be able to stay away on your own. Yeah. You felt that you could support yourself. Yeah. But since you're like your mother so much in your brother and sister when you're missed I'm sure I missed him soon as I want to weigh but I couldn't come back. Then I finally thought after a while I give myself up to a policeman maybe let me go. But when they go they keep me. That's what happened to give themselves up. They won't make that mistake you'll do that the next time they're not going to be no next time. You know if I can help it. My mother and my sister made me swear on the Bible that I go to school and then they get in trouble like that again. I just want to prove my point. If I get out of here.
And what was your point. That I could go to school and never get into any more trouble like this. I see. If I could get out of here as I proved to my probation officer. But he probably won't believe me. He thinks no. Three times he ain't going to he don't mean it. He should know that when you swear on the Bible when you say something to do it. I mean you mean it. I mean whatever you're going to do or. Don't want to do you're going to go. I mean you have to. I don't understand that. You don't seem to believe it. Well it's fine over there. I can't prove myself right. The only way I'm going to get out of here is to get a transfer out of here. But I don't think I'm going to get one. And I want to wait for my trial my probation officer is pretty sure I'll go to a training school reform school. And I want to go into a military school. You see that's what's going to happen. I'm getting my money to go to the principal and get me a transfer if he gets me a transfer until my trial. I'm going to show him what I can do. You know the judge will probably let me go because
this is only my second trial. He's going to let me go. Maybe And I'm going to prove myself and do everything I said and I'm going to keep on doing it if I get my transfer. But if I don't get my transfer I'm going to have to stay here and have to wait for my trial and get put away I say. So I want my mother to put me in a military school. And in that way I can avoid trouble and and help myself more. That she had a minute military school in mind for you. She won school my probation officer recommended a training school about 75 miles from here. I don't know where it is. I mean you never hear of it. Is it run by the state. I don't know one. And there's another one I recommended but it's final is a year they are expensive All right. I would like to go to that when I. I always did have a military school in mind but I never say anything because my mother well she never had enough money. You know you're playing on the
service as a career. Oh I sure did and I still do I want to go to the Air Force but my probation officer said I'm never going to get this way. So I wanted to go to military school. You know if I graduated from from MIT you know then you know you're going to get into the service and I want to make a career out of the service I want to be an Air Force. Your father was killed in the service was I don't know my mother. But tell me nothing if you were you could get a service very easily might even get a scholarship. I don't know anything about my father. You get really intimate times rather be by yourself. Oh no I don't get Also I so act all the kids you know. Well let's go back now. And now joining from Gadhafi to discuss the features of this child's wear road is his guest Professor Chester agers Arik of the Sociology Department and Hugh Cain university here Ira. Father Duffy And Professor just like.
Mr. Gerson Ackley Professor of Sociology has come with us today to discuss this case of Harry which we have just heard. What was your impression in general about this boy. Because he jerks like you. Well in the case of Harry Reid who was obvious problem is one of delinquency and complicated by the alcoholic problem. We I think we see an example of how complex. Delinquency can be or any type of situation where youngsters are disturbed that in trying to reduce Harry's problem to a single factor would be rather erroneous. That in effect when we look at this case. We see a number of factors operating. One at the youngster does not have a natural father but I have a stepfather and he doesn't seem to identify with the stepfather. He
has no natural person. With whom he can identify the male role. Then his problem in school he seems to. Have the ability. Or the intelligence for being educated but his not too interested. Sometimes our schools have programs that do not interested or do not interest such people. Furthermore association we see this is a good example of his associating with boys who drink who dare for him to drink. They are able to pick up the drink from somebody. And as he puts it we don't like to waste it. We like to use it. Also there seems to be psychological problems that are associated to these youngsters struggling for stability for example. He wants to go to the military school. Other words he wants to have discipline. He wants to have security. And then he's always
promising as to. How he's going to show them he's going to prove himself. He'll do right finally and things of that sort. I don't know if you have some other impression foller on this point but to me the case is a good example of that. Whenever we talk. Or analyze or study. Such cases. We must realize that. And a singular cause probably will not explain the case and therefore will not read us lead us to a form of therapy that would be desirable. Yes I think you have often pointed out two in your classes and your counseling experiences have led you to believe that the child's life and the adult's life too from the matter of fact is pretty much that of a spider web. Where you rarely have a child who was a very good boy in every area except that he either drinks or he steals I think. When you find a child is seriously disturbed in one area it affects all the rest of them.
This boy as you say as you have said is searching around for a control he is asking really society how much are you going to let me get away with. When are you going to stop me. When are you going to receive me when are you going to take me and when are you going to make me conform. And we often find too if a child instead of developing inhibitions instead of controlling himself he behaves in such a way that society simply has to step in and take over the control of him. And very often this doll is his own normal inhibitions. I was thinking to what would you say that this looks like a boy with pretty strong uncontrolled drives and pretty weak inhibition system. Also two other things. Strong extra family environment pulling him away from the family so that I think in a week family from which he's withdrawing himself or allowing himself to be siphoned off to these other influences what do you think that would summarize it. I think all of those elements are contained in his case one of the things
that surprised me in listening to his story was the one where his mother now allows him to buy cigarettes in fact she provides a cigarette money at the tender age of 14. He's now in ninth grade he has two sneakers but says he says but now his mother actually provides him with money for cigarettes. And I think that our children of today are very much influenced by the kind of environment they live that we live very much in an environment that is non-conforming. Although in some aspects of course we've overdone conformity in the business world but I think in our family we have probably gone the other direction. But we often criticize our civilization and our society and culture as being over conforming but I wonder whether this is true of all groups or whether there are. Groups one of which is the family where parents become rather confused
as to the kind of product they want to produce and therefore tend to be let's say rather lax. There are some extreme parents who go in the direction but it seems to me that this boy in some of his behavior and his drinking and smoking behavior sort of mirrors the adult world where we all now tend to be social drinkers for example. We tend to find that if we don't do this we're sort of. Not accepted by him by people who are in our circle. And I think youngsters begin to mirror the adult world you know effect and I think that in delinquents we often see a mirror of our don't wear both strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately our children often borrow our weaknesses rather than our strengths. And. This case represents. I think such a mere force and just blaming our
youngsters as we often do I think doesn't get at the bottom of the problem to vote on the problem is probably adult society that is supposed to give a lead to our youngsters and does not it seems to me it doesn't urge a very good pattern on them. And. Did you notice too that throughout he mentions about proving and it always interests me when I hear of a child who wants to prove something. The picture I got here is that this boy's father was unknown to the boys never seen him and the mother strangely enough has never talked about him to the boy and this may make him wonder whether or not he belongs to any real real father whether there is a father around he doesn't say he's dead. I don't think he does anyhow. And then the mother has remarried and even that man is not in the house she is forced to live with a child of hers. And I think he probably wants to prove writing things that he doesn't even know what what they are I think you want to prove that he's a man in this
pretty strongly dominated female society. I think he wants to prove that he's a man in school. From this point of view that the way he got into trouble originally was that there were other boys were drinking and he informed on them. And then having informed on him of course he lost status with his peer group in the school and the first thing you know he is now doing the very thing for which he was the informant. And in fact he was picked up by the police. Did it we're doing this no. Dead drunk. Seems that there's the aspect or sociological aspect here that we're going to have read that Harry doesn't have the kind of sense of belonging to a group like the family that he should have. And I think it is also true as we've mentioned that he has no male figure to identify himself with. And also I think that his family has tanked kind of taken for granted the black sheep because he
says that when he gets into trouble his family yells about it and then forgets about it and doesn't mention it. Instead of let's say every day this situation talking about it and maybe it. If they don't have the money taking Harry to some clinic or something I saw it there seems to be no attempt to do this. In other words will scream about it for a while and then the problem will go away. Or if not maybe Harry will go away and therefore there'll be no problem. So I think that not only harry doesn't identify himself with the family the family in a way probably is isolated psychologically speaking although they live physically together psychologically as isolated from Harry and probably wishes that Harry would just disappear one of these days and the problem would disappear. I think this is not an unusual thing to reject someone psychologically although you may live together physically we. I think this is not uncommon for phenomena in the American family system and it might be to just military school for him represents the things he didn't
get in his family you know might be some of this imaginative creative thoughts in his own mind. Well I think our time is about up I'd like to thank Professor Jerzy for being here today and helping us analyze this and get a little bit further insight into the workings of the child's world. 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 Education University has conducted the interview with the child and to find the outlines of this work in the discussion with his guest Professor Chester agers and also of the Department of Sociology at Duquesne. This has been a production of the radio services of Duquesne University technical
direction by Frederick Williams your announcer has risen again next week for another in the series exploring the trials were. The preceding program was made available to the station by the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is the end E.B. Radio Network.
Exploring the child's world
The spider web
Producing Organization
Duquesne University
WDUQ (Radio station : Pittsburgh, Pa.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-2f7jtr78).
Episode Description
The Spider Web
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
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
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: 62-27-1 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:48
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Exploring the child's world; The spider web,” 1962-05-18, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 20, 2024,
MLA: “Exploring the child's world; The spider web.” 1962-05-18. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 20, 2024. <>.
APA: Exploring the child's world; The spider web. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from