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Journal of social hygiene (Volume 28) online

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from venereal disease is officially considered a defense activity, but
protection of youth by special education is not considered "defense"
until they become trainees or workers. There are very few communi-
ties with efficient instruction on what youth has a right to know about
the venereal diseases. Some high schools and youth organizations
have occasional talks on these diseases, often by doctors who are
competent physicians but are far from being good teachers; but
on the whole youth in "defense communities," like American youth


in general, are not being taught about syphilis and gonorrhea as
they are about tuberculosis and other common communicable diseases.

A challenging opportunity for emphasis of venereal disease edu-
cation for youth now exists in defense communities, which after a
hectic year of construction and organization are now settling down
for long-time action. The somewhat increased danger to community
youth and the prominence of local discussion concerning venereal
disease and prostitution in relation to the trainees offer two good
reasons why the young people should be well informed. For example,
in one city the two newspapers devoted much space each day for
several weeks to the citizens' fight against a proposed segregated
district. Many high school students wondered "what it was all
about," but there was neither a plan nor any well informed health
teachers to answer their honest questions concerning venereal
disease, segregated and "red light districts," and other topics sug-
gested by the daily papers. Many parents and school officials will
agree that the young folks in this city had a right to scientific expla-
nation of the problems set forth in the press ; but hasten to point out
that there is a shortage of competent health teachers and of texts
and illustrative matter such as are available for instruction concerning
other diseases.

The fact is that the challenge should be directed to the Federal,
state and voluntary agencies which are concerned with venereal
disease control. They have turned loose a flood of excellent prop-
aganda pamphlets and motion pictures, but many school officials
and expert teachers have pointed out that there are no satisfactory
printed texts and projection pictures for average classroom use in
lessons on the venereal diseases. Many high school officials have said
that they are ready to consider for trial in health classes any reason-
able text and picture matter which has been worked out and tested
by even a small group of recognized health educators. If and when
such teaching materials become available, they should be introduced
as rapidly as possible in the American high schools, and those in
defense communities should be helped first.

In all references to venereal disease control education in the fore-
going it is assumed that such instruction will be part of a course
in health education, as outlined in the JOURNAL OF SOCIAL HYGIENE,
February, 1941. The educational problems here considered will be
most successfully presented to youth as human social relations that
have no essential connections with venereal disease; and would exist
as important problems of human relations if there were no venereal

In the opinion of most parents and educators, an educational
problem much more important than that of venereal disease is sug-
gested by (2) above, where it is noted that there is a tendency among
youth to condone or even accept lower standards of conduct in their
communities. Here is a task for homes, schools and churches. In
defense communities where disapproved conduct is conspicuous, are
the adolescent boys and girls to be left to make their own interpre-


tation of the kind of conduct they see around them ? Leading parents,
ministers and educators have said "no" to this question, but unfor-
tunately the tendency among parents and teachers has been to leave
the youngsters to find their own answers. But here and there in
training-camp communities one finds some hopeful signs that educa-
tors and ministers are leading parent groups to cooperate in a planned
attack on the problem of youth attitudes towards conduct. In addi-
tion to some commendable classroom work under health and home
economics, the writer investigated the two following cases which
involved all pupils in high schools of over 600 pupils:

A girls' school in a large southern city "borrowed" for a week from a
State college a woman who has a reputation for wise dealing with girls. In
groups of twenty to fifty she discusses questions of health and conduct, many
of which the students submitted.

In a small southern city the high school girls who met the principal in a
regular open discussion period asked him: "Are the young men from Fort

as drunk and disorderly on the main streets of their home towns

as they were on our Main Street last weekend?" Later the boys' group raised
a similar question. In both groups the principal steered into a discussion of
how to hold up standards of behavior for youth of their own town, and in
later sessions followed up. Some ministers in camp areas reported that they
had discussed current questions of conduct in talks with groups of their
young people.

The foregoing suggests what should be done in educating com-
munity youth to face the questions which are sure to be prominent
as long as the communities have tens of thousands of trainees selected
at random from our general population. The cases reported above
showed commendable handling of new situations; but there is need
of definite planning to include ideals of conduct in regular school
instruction, and especially in selected readings. At the same time,
there should be maintained in every defense community in schools,
churches and youth organizations discussion groups in which young
folks may be helped to think clearly on many problems, including
those mentioned in the foregoing.

In handling discussions of disapproved conduct, in teaching or
sermons, it is important to make the youth of the community recog-
nize that only a minority of the trainees are involved in such conduct.
Young people, especially the girls, in many training-camp communi-
ties are much inclined to be suspicious of the character of the majority
of trainees who are merely privates. Even corporals and sergeants
have better entree to community social circles. Young people in such
communities should learn (and in the summer of 1941 it was reported
that they are learning) to recognize that, as in normal community
life, one must learn to choose friends and avoid the unworthy.

Defense community youth ought to have a chance at least to read
and if possible to discuss with selected leaders the anti-social effects
of prostitution. The young people in defense communities have had
forced upon their attention the local campaigns against prostitution.
They know that professional prostitutes have come into their com-
munity for the purpose of attracting the trainees. They have usually
acquired the idea that the public opposition to prostitutes is based


solely on the fact that they are likely to have and transmit venereal
disease. This has been so prominent a part of the campaign against
prostitution in defense centers that many young folks, and older ones,
have come to believe that there would be no objection to well-behaved
prostitutes if they were surely free from the germs of syphilis and
gonorrhea. In the opinion of many prominent citizens in defense
areas, and elsewhere, the current plan of attack on prostitution almost
exclusively from the health point of view is tending alarmingly to
fix in the minds of young people the belief just stated. This is not
acceptable to many prominent Americans who believe that the anti-
social effects of prostitution on youth and the family far outweigh
the well-known health hazards. Parents, educators, ministers and
others who hold this view will not be satisfied until they are sure
that their young folks are somehow learning the anti-social significance
of promiscuity and prostitution.

In the rapidly expanded war industry communities, experienced
observers seem to agree that the adolescent problems, which exist in
all industrial centers in normal times, are now intensified by the
unorganized and disorganized conditions which are commonly found
in "boom" towns. Impressionable youth gets more than its fair
share of such chaotic conditions. It appears that the social hygiene
conditions affecting youth are even more complicated and probably
more serious in the expanded industrial centers than in the towns
and cities which have been more or less "swamped" by large training-
camp populations.

There are several groups of facts supporting the opinion that
youth in "boom" industrial centers is in more danger than in
training-camp communities :

(1) Workmen in defense industries are on duty only eight hours
per day and often only five days per week, while men in the training-
camps have limited leaves, usually week ends. Obviously, the work-
men have a large amount of leisure time to be spent among the people
of the town.

(2) A substantial percentage of the workmen are unmarried or
not living with their families. This is the type reported as most
often involved in unwholesome associations with community youth.
However, a large number of defense workmen have some kind of
home or family ties, and as housing develops there is an ever-increasing
percentage of this desirable type of men.

(3) A large number of the industrial workmen are housed in or
near residential districts and hence it is probable that they will come
into daily and close contact with the youth of the community.

(4) A temporary type of situation showing the relation between
community youth and industrial workers has occurred during the
hasty building of many large camps. In several small cities which
housed thousands of itinerant workmen employed by the camp con-
struction contractors, leading citizens pointed out that such workmen


were responsible for some serious situations among young girls of
the community, especially visits to various kinds of disreputable
roadhouses where the associations and standards of conduct were not
approved by most parents concerned. In one such city of less than
25,000 population, more than 100 hasty marriages of local girls with
transient workmen had been recorded before March 10th, 1941, and
desertions were common.

(5) Several informants called attention to the obvious fact that
when training-camp and industrial populations are mixed, the trainees
on leave obviously are successful competitors over the workmen for
the attentions of the masses of girls. However, this competition exists
chiefly at weekends, leaving the workmen a free field for four or five
days each week.

(6) It should be clearly understood that the serious problems of
the relations of youth and industrial workers probably concerned
only a minority of either the youth or working groups.


This report has called attention to the need of special
educational attack on the newly-expanded health and social
problems of youth in defense communities. Probably it is too
much to hope that under defense conditions more than some
rather limited protective education may be set up for the
youth, especially in high schools, of these areas. Of course,
like all American youth, those in defense communities need
a broad program of social hygiene education, ' i the larger sex
education," (with or without the name) in addition to ade-
quate health instruction concerning the venereal diseases
which war conditions have made most dangerous of the com-
municable diseases.

A broad program of social hygiene education is certainly
needed by the youth of every defense community, even more
than youth in general throughout the United States. As
pointed out in the preceding pages, boys and girls in these
communities are meeting every type of social hygiene prob-
lems more directly and frequently than in the average
American community. They have a right to an understand-
ing of the health and social conditions which have been
suddenly thrust upon their home neighborhoods. But this
right of youth is not being recognized by educators and
parents in most of the communities affected by the fourteen
major camp areas and in some industrial regions which are


included in this report; and correspondence indicates that
this is the general situation in defense communities in all

This general neglect of social hygiene education for youth
in defense communities is more than local failure to grasp
the situation. The fact is that the appropriate federal, state,
and local official agencies and the national, state, and local
voluntary organizations have shown no signs of considering
social hygiene education of this type a " defense activity."
Certainly nothing has been done of significance to encourage
educational activities for youth in local defense communities.
As stated above, attention has been and still is centered in
protecting trainees and defense industrial workers against
venereal disease and in attempting to reduce promiscuity and
commercial prostitution. This, of course, is direct national
defense and must go on and on. But the time has come when
national and state governmental and voluntary agencies
should undertake to cooperate with the educators and parents
in defense communities in developing a broad program of
social hygiene education for local youth. Surely the boys
and girls of every defense community have a rightful place
in the second line of American defense.

A Message to American Fighting Men from Their Commander-in-Chief

"You young Americans today are conducting yourselves in a manner
worthy of the highest, proudest traditions of our nation. . . . You are
doing first things first fighting to win this war. . . . Victory is essential;
but victory is not enough for you or for us. We must be sure that when
you have won victory you will not have to tell your cliildren that you were
betrayed. We must be sure that in your homes there will not be want
that in your schools only the living truth will be taught that in your
churches there may be preached without fear a faith in which men may
deeply believe.

"The better world for which you fight . . . will be made possible only
by bold vision, intelligent planning and hard work. It cannot be brought
about overnight, but only by years of effort and perseverance and unfal-
tering faith. . . . You young soldiers and sailors, farmers and factory
workers, artists and scholars, who are fighting our way to victory now,
all of you will have to take your part in shaping that world. . . . With
divine guidance, we can make in this dark world of today, and in the
new post-war world a steady progress towards the highest goals that men
have ever imagined. ' '


President of the United States, in an address
before the International Student Assembly, September, 1942.



Harvard Seminar on Youth Standards in Wartime.
Report of Workshop No. 1


The purpose of this workshop was to consider elements in
a program that could be put into effect now to meet the imme-
diate problems which arise in a community when soldiers,
sailors and war workers are meeting girls in public places,
resulting, in many instances, in conduct publicly considered
undesirable. We were to assume that such problems were
already in existence; that we must attack them as we found
them. It was not the concern of this particular workshop
to consider ways of preventing the problems from arising
through long-term methods of approach.

Thus education and recreation, prime weapons in any long-
time attack on anti-social behavior, are here denied us except
where they can be employed to produce immediate results.
We are to assume that education and recreation have failed
to prevent part of the population from engaging in forms
of sexual behavior which our present society condemns. We
beg the question whether education and recreation can ever
prevent such behavior in toto. We are not concerned as
a workshop, therefore, with antecedents, with morals, with
trends, with standards, with codes of conduct. These are the
concern of the Seminar as a whole, and of some of the other
workshops. We are the fire department answering the alarm
after the building is ablaze. We may wish the conflagration
could have been prevented; we may hope future structures
will be built fireproof. Our task, however, is to put out the
flames as we find them with whatever resources we have
at our immediate command.

Our workshop group represents a number of community agencies
and services. Dr. Helen I. D. McGillicuddy and I, as workshop



leaders, represent the Massachusetts Society for Social Hygiene, an
organization primarily concerned with the manifestations of sex
in the lives of men and women. From the welfare field we have
Charlotte Esdaile and Margaret A. Sullivan of the Catholic Chari-
table Bureau. Representing neighborhood houses are Achsa L.
Ransier of Margaret Fuller House, Cambridge, and Willette Pierce
of Norfolk House Center, Roxbury. From the Florence Crittenton
League we have Helen R. Fowler of the Maternity Home and
Josephine Reichardt of Welcome House. Frances G. McMahon repre-
sents the federal Child Welfare Services. Margaret S. O'Donnell
of Scituate is with the School Health Service and Irene McAuliffe
with the Boston Police Department. The press is present in the
persons of Janet Jones of the Boston Globe and Rona Brown of
the Community Fund. Rosamond B. Rheault of Westwood and Mrs.
R. H. Markham of Boston represent the civic-minded general public.

We begin our workshop with an inquiry into the kinds of tools
with which we work. Our first witness is John J. Murphy, regional
supervisor for New England of the federal Social Protection Section,
Office of Defense Health and Welfare Services. He tells us this:

"It is the purpose of the Federal Defense Program to safeguard
the health and morale of the armed forces and the workers in
defense industry. The Social Protection Section has been formed
to implement this purpose. The first task of this Section is to
promote the public health by the reduction of venereal disease
through the repression of commercialized prostitution.

"The responsibility of the Section is by no means limited to this
task, however. The Section is concerned with the protection of the
community and particularly of its girls and young women, from
prostitution and other related social hazards. It also stimulates the
constructive treatment and care of girls and women detained by
the police."

Mr. Murphy emphasizes the principle that the responsibility for
the actual operation of this program belongs primarily to the states,
counties and communities. He explains :

"It is the responsibility of the Social Protection Section to co-
ordinate the work of the several agencies concerned with the problem
and to see to it that the proper steps are taken in regard to that
phase of the Defense Health and Welfare Services program relating
to social protection."

Mr. Murphy points out that no one person or agency knows the
total situation; that the only feasible way of finding the answer is
to bring together the existing public and private resources and
agencies of the community. He says:

"Every possible means the press, the radio, the pulpit, should
be utilized to bring home the fact that danger lurks for the innocent,
the unsuspecting, the inexperienced 'teen-age' girls who frequent
places that are known to be 'hot spots'. We grant the fact that


parents have the inalienable right and the concomitant responsibility
to educate and to direct the behavior of their children. However,
it has been demonstrated, by virtue of the fact that the community
has established safeguards to implement parental responsibility, that
some parents, either through misguided confidence or indifference,
are unable to exercise this inalienable right. To this end protective
agencies, both public and private, have been set up to do the job
that some parents have failed to do."

In response to questioning, Mr. Murphy explains that the Social
Protection Section does not deal with individual cases ; that it fosters
the coordination of local agencies to handle such cases in whatever
ways seem pertinent to the problems presented.

Mr. Murphy is asked whether group activities offer an effective
attack. He replies that the trouble lies with the girl who does not
belong to a group and who shies away from the group. It is the
girl who may have just turned sixteen, who has a job, who suddenly
thinks she " knows it all" and can form her independent judgments,
who craves affection, does not get it at home and finds it in meeting
soldiers and sailors on Boston Common or in the drinking places.

When next our workshop meets, Dr. McGillicuddy tells us of the
family and community elements in our problem. She says the aim
of social hygiene is the upbuilding of the family as a unit of society.
War takes away the father, the mothers may have to work outside
the home. Disciplinary and affectional elements are thereby removed
from the home. Many homes are inadequate in their physical aspects.
There is no place for a daughter to entertain her friends, so she has
to go outside to meet young men.

Miss Fowler is asked to tell us something of a most serious element
of our problem the unmarried mother and the illegitimate child.
She reports that girls in maternity homes are coming more and more
from the higher economic and social levels. The girl who arrives
at the maternity home for the first time is not a bad girl, but is
generally a victim of circumstances. She feels she has had a rotten
deal. When handled with understanding and frankness, her strength
of character can be built up. For most of these girls maternity
home care is better than foster home care, particularly for the middle
income group. The girl is one of several unmarried mothers at the
maternity home, where there is no stigma attached to her situation
as there might be outside. Most of the girls later marry, but usually
not the fathers of their babies. The parents adopt the child. Thus
most of these girls adjust themselves well to normal life after what
might have been an exceedingly demoralizing experience.

At our next meeting it is my turn on the witness stand, and I
outline some of the special types of service necessary in dealing with
the public manifestations of the boy and girl problem. The standards


adopted a few years back by the Child Welfare League of America
seem pertinent and they are quoted as follows:

"Most of the problems that confront the protective worker are
rooted in conditions outside as well as inside the individual or the
family. To deal adequately with these problems therefore requires
not only personal contacts . . ., but also, in most cases, some modifica-
tion of the surrounding environment. In seeking to bring about
such a modification the protective worker has need of recourse to a
wide variety of community resources. Social agencies of all kinds,
churches, courts, clinics, hospitals, schools, playgrounds, parks, camps,
libraries, museums, interested individuals all these resources and
others, if wisely used, can be valuable in case work. ' '

We take notice of the peculiar relationship between the worker
and the person in need of protection. The girl who frequents the
parks or cafes where soldiers or sailors gather does not ordinarily
place herself in the hands of a protective agent. The prostitute does
not voluntarily seek rehabilitation. The operator of a house of
prostitution and the proprietor of a cafe or hotel which is a focus of
genitoinfectious disease do not ask to be regulated or put out of
business. It is the worker who makes the overture and since the work
is in either the sphere of legal or innocent behavior on the one hand,
or delinquent or criminal activity on the other, or perhaps in the
twilight zone between, the worker must be armed with some authority
recognized by the public.

We find that it is this clothing of the protective worker with

Online LibraryAmerican Social Hygiene AssociationJournal of social hygiene (Volume 28) → online text (page 58 of 71)