Gertrude Howe Britton to Juvenile Protective Association Executive Board, July 11, 1911

Juvenile Protective Association
Juvenile Court Committee

July 11, 1911.

To the Members of the Board,
Juvenile Protective Association
Chicago, Illinois.

The work of the Juvenile Protective Association is divided into three distinct classes:

1st. The study and treatment of individual cases where the welfare of children is at stake.

2d. The study of conditions which produce juvenile dependency and delinquency.

3d. The arousing of public sentiment to the needs of various situations discovered, and the suggesting of means for their remedy.

During the life of the organization approximately 20,000 cases have been studied. Almost every possible situation influencing the moral welfare of children has been dealt with -- illness and poverty, housing and environment, ignorance and immortality, drunkenness and brutality, oppression and indifference.

There probably always will be a number of cases which cannot be claused with any definitive group, but on the other hand perhaps [90%] can be classified in definitive groups, each group of which is practically always produced by the same conditions and can be prevented or cared for by practically the same means.

The work of this organization in dealing with these groups is twofold. First, studying the methods of handling with the idea of procuring [page 2] the greatest efficiency and, second, studying the causes with the idea of elimination.

Knowing these general propositions and having a large organized working force which is constantly gathering more information as to definite causes, and day by day getting closer to the needs of the various situations, and being constantly better able to determine the remedies for these situations, it behooves the organization in order that its own efficiency may not be impaired, to follow up more and more vigorously the various discoveries of remedial means, by forcing definite civic activity in each case as promptly as possible after there is a definite knowledge of the situation. This is especially desirable when we know that gratifying results have usually been obtained on those things which have been followed up closely and vigorously.

The new Court of Domestic Relations is the best example in which this organization was able to assist greatly in changing a condition in which there was neither economy of money, time, effort or effectiveness of treatment. Instead of the old system we now have a court where family troubles, which are in almost all cases the prime factors in the production of dependency and delinquency, are treated seriously, and where a special effort is made by Judge, Attorney, Clerk and Probation Officer to get at the real difficulty in each case and decide the family problems in such a way that the children will be best protected.

The first hand knowledge of the conditions in the cheap [theaters] in Chicago was one of the important factors in successfully meeting the emergency caused by the attempted passage of the Child Actor Bill at the last session of the State Legislature. Probably the two most important facts which have been gathered from our various studies of the public amusements -- dance-halls, boats, amusement parks, [theaters], beaches, etc., are, first, that there is a great natural demand for recreation which must be satisfied and, second, that the present forms of recreation as conducted are productive of numberless yourself indiscretions and crimes. [page 3]

The size of our organization, the number and influence of the people interested, make it our moral responsibility to force to an issue at once a plan for regulating all public amusements. A method of procedure should be decided upon at once. The magnitude of the undertaking makes it imperative that no time be lost in developing some means of protecting the thousands of young people who are constantly subjected to the unwholesome influences which thoroughly pervade nearly every public amusement in Chicago.

Personally, I do not think that merely passing an ordinance will materially affect the situation. It seems to me that the situation requires the continued study and thought for months, and perhaps years, of a Recreation Commission composed of not more than ten well selected public-spirited citizens. I do not mean to imply that the subject of recreation is by any means the only work of the organization but it, in itself, is so intimately connected with so large a volume of our work that it seems wise to take up the matter by itself.

Gertrude Howe Britton [signed]

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