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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis




Letter of transmittal-:_____________ i____________________________
Introduction_________ .____ :_____ gr:___- _*_______ ______ ____
Legal protection of dependent, neglected, and delinquent children in
Georgia___ _____________ —__ ________ \_____
The juvenile court law and its application—L'__— ________ ______
Jurisdiction of the juvenile court________ _____ ___ ______________
Hearings__________________________________________ _______
Probation service_________ _______________________ ________
Method of bringing children before the court___________________ JDetention pending hearing________________________ __________ _
Jail detention_____ ■_________^____________________________
Other means of detention_________*________________ «_______
Statistical summary of children’s cases____________ _____________
Types of court hearing children’s cases___________________ _
Status of children before the courts________________________
Children detained pending hearing______________
Offenses with which delinquent children were charged_________
Disposition made of delinquency cases_____________ ________
Offenses committed by adults against children___________________
Jurisdiction and procedure.—______ _______________________
Cases prosecuted_________________ ____ i_____
Standards governing treatment of offenses against children___
Nonsupport and desertion___________________ _______ p ll_______
Procedure_________ .________ _____________________________
Cases before the courts__ ______________l__j___ _____ ______ .
Suggested treatment of nonsupport and desertion____________
Adoptions_____________________ ________ 1____ ______________ _
Procedure___ ___ —2._______ ._________________ _______ *■*___
Adoption cases_____________________________________ _____
Suggested treatment of adoption_____ _____ ,__________
Custody of children in divorce and other cases___ ._______ ______
Jurisdiction and procedure_______________ ,___ Si-4___
Children involved in divorce cases_____ ___________
Child marriages__________________ !________________ ____ - l i l _
Legal provisions_________ .___________________ ________
Number of child marriages_________ ____________ _________
Administration of the Georgia marriage law____ :_____ __ ____
Laws with reference to the marriage of minors___ i___________
Children born out of wedlock______________________
Legal provisions_____________________ _______ _______ ____ _
Court cases_______________________ 2______ ;___
The uniform illegitimacy act__________________ §________j._
Lack of provision for aid to children in their own homes_____ j.__
Families in need of aid__ a!?___ _____ _________ - __________
Purpose of “ mothers’ allowance ” laws____ ________________
Juvenile delinquency_____________________________________________
Prevalence and treatment_______________ _________ ,___________
Contributing causes__ %.__ ____ _____ __________________ L__ § _
Bad home conditions_____________ ___i.__ _________U______
Subnormality____________ .__ ^___ ___ _______ ____ 58________
Truancy_________________________ ___ ____ __________ __ _
Vagrancy_\___ _________ :___________ ___ _____ ________
Gang activities and stealing__ __________ 1__ _______________
Immorality___________________ ^______ ______________
Measures for the prevention of delinquency_______ -______ ___
Illustrations of conditions in the counties studied________________
Prevalence and treatment of delinquency—_____ ____________
Educational and recreational measures tending to prevent delin­
quency____________________ _______________________ ____

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis










Summary of legislative needs for child protection in Georgia
Juvenile courts---------------------------------------------------------Detention---------------------------------------------------------------Offenses committed by adults against children--------------Nonsupport and desertion---------------------------------------- —
Children born out of wedlock------------------------------------ 4
Adoption------ ;---------------------------------------------------------Transfer of legal guardianship---------------------------------Child marriage— ----------------------------------------- --------Aid to children in their own homes---------- —,---------------Rural social work----------------------------------- ----------------Appendix.—Forms used in the survey------------------------------
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis




U n it e d S tates D e pa r t m e n t of L abor ,
C h il d r e n ’s B u r e a u ,



Washington A p ril 1 1926.

There is transmitted herewith a report on dependent and de­
linquent children in Georgia, the result of a survey of child de­
pendency, neglect, and delinquency in Georgia made by the social
service division of the Children's Bureau under the supervision of
Emma O. Lundberg.
The survey was undertaken in 1924 at the request of the Georgia
Department of Public Welfare and the Georgia Children’s Code
Commission for the purpose of furnishing the commission with data
that would be of service in framing desirable child-welfare legisla­
tion. The field study was made in the early months of 1924 and
copies of a preliminary report, pertaining especially to the findings
of the survey in relation to legislative needs, were transmitted in
June, 1924 (the legislature convened on June 24, 1924), to the de­
partment of public welfare and to the children’s code commission.
The department of public welfare and the courts and social agencies
m the 30 counties studied gave helpful cooperation throughout the
Respectfully submitted.
S ir .


J a m es J . D a v is ,

G race A bbott , Chief.

Secretary of Labor.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The Georgia Children’s Code Commission was created in 19221
with instruction “ to study the existing laws of Georgia which in
any way affect child life, to study conditions of child welfare in the
State, to study the laws of other States, and to consult authorities
in this and other States, and to draft for presentation to the succeed­
ing legislatures such laws or amendments to the existing laws as
will better safeguard the welfare of children in this State.” The
law provided for 10 members of the commission to be appointed by
the governor to hold office for five years and until their successors
were appointed. No appropriation was made for the work of the
commission, and it was specifically provided in the law that members
were not to be ‘paid any salary or remuneration by the State. The
commission was organized early in 1923 with the following commit­
tees: (1) Delinquency and juvenile courts; (2) dependent, neglected,
and defective children; (3) child health and recreation; and (4)
education and employment. The Georgia State Council of Social
Agencies loaned the services of their executive secretary to the
The State Council of Social Agencies organized an advisory
committee on children’s laws, divided into four sections similar to
those organized by the children’s code commission, and composed
of 100 leading citizens and representatives of State organizations,
which was to serve as a clearing house for the consideration of
needed legislation, to criticize drafts of bills prepared by committees
of the commission, and to give its support to the commission when
a program of laws was submitted to the legislature. The advisory
committee held hearings in the State capitol before the commission
had met to discuss the plans for its work. These hearings were at­
tended by national authorities in the various fields of child welfare,
and the different State groups interested in special legislation had
an opportunity to present and discuss their ideas.
The commission decided not to advocate nor sponsor new legisla­
tion at the 1923 session of the State legislature, but to report the
progress of its studies and to submit data concerning the enforce­
ment or lack of enforcement of existing laws and the adequacy of
appropriations. In accordance with this decision a report was sub­
mitted to the governor and general assembly summarizing the
progress made by the commission in its study of laws and calling
1Ga., Laws of 1922, No. BOO, sec. 1.
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attention to the inadequacy of financial support accorded important
State departments and institutions.2 As a result of this report the
legislature increased the appropriation for the State department of
public welfare and granted to the State training school for boys
and girls a small appropriation for building.3
At the request of and in cooperation with the State welfare
department and the code commission the Children’s Bureau under­
took a field study of child dependency, neglect, and delinquency in
30 counties4 selected as fairly representative of social, economic,
racial, and geographic conditions in the State. The study was
made in January, February, and March, 1924. The survey, al­
though primarily concerned with courts handling children’s cases,
included many problems affecting children—namely, the extent of
delinquency, dependency, and neglect untouched by the courts and
other social agencies as well as dealt with by the courts, offenses
committed by adults against children, cases of nonsupport or deser­
tion, the means of safeguarding children in adoption cases and in
cases of change of custody, illegitimacy, child marriages, and the
need for aid to children in their own homes. Information was
obtained from the records of the courts, from interviews with judges
and county officials dealing with such problems, from school authori­
ties, from agencies doing social work, and from individuals familiar
with the county situation.5 In addition the Children’s Bureau
agents obtained general data on the composition of .the population,
economic conditions, industries, schools, recreational facilities, and
social agencies in the 30 counties. As a basis for the local studies
the agents made use of material collected and reports prepared by
the department of public welfare during its four years of service.6
This department and the courts and social agencies in the counties
covered gave helpful cooperation throughout the survey.
In 1924 the commission drafted a bill'which would codify, revise,
and improve the laws of Georgia affecting delinquent, dependent,
neglected, and defective children, and would revise the juvenile court
law and all laws relating to matters coming within the jurisdiction
of the juvenile court, greatly extending its jurisdiction. This bill
was withdrawn but served as a basis for an extensive educational
campaign during the following year. In 1925 eight bills were pre­
sented to the legislature relating to adoption, illegitimacy, juvenile
court, nonsupport, compulsory school attendance, child labor, and to
the State training schools for boys and girls. Only one (relating to
F irst Annual Report of the Georgia Children’s Code Commission to the Governor and
General Assembly. Georgia Children’s Code Commission, A tlanta, Ga., 1923.
8 Ga., Laws of 1923, Nos. 516, 300.
4 Ben H ill, Bibb, Brooks, Clark, Colquitt, Cook, Coweta, Crisp, Dougherty, Elbert, Floyd,
Glynn, Grady, Habersham, Hall, Heard, H ouston, Laurens, Lowndes, Muskogee, Polk
Randolph, Richmond, Stephens, Sumter, Thomas, Troup, Ware, Wayne, Whitfield
6 For forms used in the survey see appendix, p. 89.
«Georgia’s F ight A gainst Dependency and Delinquency, Report to the Legislature of
the Work of the Department of Public W elfare During Its F irst Year Ending March 1
1921. “ In Loco P arentis,” The Work of the Juvenile Court in Saving Georgia’s Wards
from Lives of Poverty and C rim e; a handbook for juvenile court judges, advisory boards,
probation officers, and civic organizations. A tlanta, 1922. Economy through Public
W elfare Service, Report of Second Year’s Work of the Georgia State Department of
Public Welfare for the Year Ending June 1, 1922. Report of Third Year’s Work of the
Georgia State Department of Public Welfare for the Year Ending June 1, 1923. Report
of Fourth Year’s Work of the Georgia State Department of Public Welfare for the Year
Ending June 1, 1924. Footprints, Report of F ifth Year’s Work, June 1, 1925. State
Department of Public Welfare,
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child labor)7 was enacted into law, but much was accomplished in
the education of public opinion with reference to needed reforms.
The commission plans to continue its work of educating public opin­
ion in behalf of its program.
In discussing the various topics dealt with in this report emphasis
has been placed on the absence of facilities for constructive work.
This has been done because of the great need that exists, which has
been pointed out repeatedly by State officials and citizens of Georgia,
for a comprehensive revision of child-welfare laws (see pp. 88-87)
and the development of resources for constructive service. Never­
theless, evidence is not lacking that the educational activities of the
department of public welfare and increasing recognition of public
responsibility for preventive and constructive work for children
were beginning to bear fruit.
In one county, for example, in which more than 100 children came
before the juvenile court during one year the court had been made a
constructive social agency through the work of the probation officer
in the investigation and supervision of cases. Frequent court hear­
ings are an important feature of good juvenile-court organization.
A court in one of the more populous counties held hearings daily.
The boarding-home plan of detention care was being developed to a
greater or less extent in nine counties, and since the study was made
this method has been developed further with the encouragement of
the State department of public welfare.8
Although in general, procedure in cases not* coming under the
juvenile court law lacked any provision for safeguarding the inter­
ests of the children involved, a few encouraging exceptions were
found. In one county it was customary in proceedings against adults
committing crimes against children to clear the court room of all but
those connected with the case. The juvenile court of another county
had developed a satisfactory method of dealing with abandonment
cases informally. . In one county investigations both of the prospec­
tive foster home and of the child’s own home were made in adoption
cases. The courts hearing divorce, cases in three counties sometimes
called upon the juvenile-probation officers to make special investi­
gations in cases in which children were involved.
Development of modern, well-equipped schools and of organized
recreation are important measures tending to prevent juvenile de­
linquency. The consolidated-school movement in one county covered
by the survey included all the schools for white children (outside the
county seat). A visiting teacher had been employed in one city in
cooperation with the National Committee on Visiting Teachers (see
p. 80). Progress had been made in some counties in providing whole­
some recreation for children (see pp. 81-82).
7 This law, to take effect January 1, 1926, applies to m ills, factories, laundries, manu­
facturing establishm ents, and workshops. (Ga., Laws of 1925, No. 247.)
8 Progress has also been made since the study in some communities in respect to the
adequacy of probation service. One county included in the survey w hich had two proba­
tion officers in 1924, in 1926 has three:—a w hite woman, a w hite man, and a negro
woman— and one of these officers is to be given special opportunities for additional
training in a school o f social work.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


The Georgia juvenile court law of 1915 as amended in 1916 pro­
vided for a juvenile court with a paid probation officer in every
county of the State. In all counties having a population of less
than 60,000 the judge of the superior court was to designate all
existing court of record to act and be known as the juvenile court
of that county, the judge of such court to serve without additional
compensation. In counties having a population of between 35,000
and 60,000 “ upon concurrent recommendation of two successive
grand juries ” the judge of the superior court was required to
appoint a judge of the juvenile court, whereupon it should be con­
sidered that a special juvenile court had been created in that county.
In such counties the judge was to receive a salary fixed by the
appointing judge with the approval of the county commissioners.
Counties with a population of 60,000 or over were required by law to
have a special juvenile court. Whether the court was designated or
special, its jurisdiction applied to the cases of children under 16
years of age who were delinquent, neglected, or otherwise subject to
the discipline of the State or in need of its care and protection.1
The Georgia Department of Public Welfare was established in
March, 1920, in accordance with a law of 1919, which placed upon it
the duty “ to visit, inspect and examine once a year, or oftener,
county jails, the state, county, municipal and private institutions and
organizations which are of an eleemosynary, charitable, correctional
or reformatory^ character, or which are for the care, custody or train­
ing of the orphaned, defective, dependent, delinquent or criminal
classes.” The department was required also to distribute among
officials literature bearing upon subjects embraced under the act, and
to collect, compile, and publish statistics and information regarding
the dependent, defective, and delinquent classes and such other data
as might be of value in assisting officials in the performance of their
When the department was organized the State had only eight
juvenile-court judges, though the juvenile court law had been on the
statute books for five years. A campaign of education was bp,gun
through personal conferences and the publication, in 1922, of a
handbook for juvenile-court judges, advisory boards, probation
officers, and civic organizations.3 A. complete set of juvenile-court
forms was published also and was furnished to the courts at moder1 Ga., Laws of 1915, No. 210, as amended by Laws of 1916, No. 575.
2 Ga., Laws o f i 9 i 9 , No. 186.
3 “ In Loco P arentis,” The Work of the Juvenile Court in Saving Georgia’s Wards from
Lives of Poverty and C rim e; a handbook for juvenile court judges, advisory boards,
probation officers, and civic organizations. A tlanta, 1922.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



ate cost. The department gave immediate consideration to the
need for improvements in the juvenile court laws.4
The result of the department’s campaign was a marked increase
in the number of designated juvenile courts. In its report for the
year ending June 1, 1923, the department reported designated
judges (or special juvenile courts) in 108 of the 160 counties of the
State. The department has constantly urged the organization of
advisory boards and the fundamental importance of paid probation
Only 22 of the 30 counties included in the Children’s Bureau sur­
vey had complied with the sections of the law relative to the designa­
tion of a juvenile-court judge. Only 1 county (Bibb County) had
created a special juvenile court, although 6 o f the counties surveyed
had a population of over 35,000. In 12 counties the ordinary,6 in 8
counties the judge of the city court, and in 1 county the judge of the
municipal court had been designated juvenile-court jifdges. As 5
ordinaries had refused to serve (see p. 9) the juvenile courts in
these counties had never functioned; and in 1 county in which a citycourt judge had been designated it was reported that the court was
inactive. Consequently the intent of the law was- actually being
carried out in only 16 of the 30 counties studied.
In one county children were formally arraigned before the
recorder’s court or other courts before coming to the attention of the
juvenile court, and all cases of violations of city ordinances by chil­
dren were dealt with by the recorder’s court. In all the other coun­
ties in which juvenile courts functioned the majority of children
under 16 years of age charged with misdemeanors were heard by the
juvenile court, the superior courts hearing cases of children charged
with felonies. In the counties in which juvenile courts had not been
designated the superior court, city court, or police courts handled
children’s cases. The exercise of jurisdiction by city courts or police
courts which had not been designated as juvenile courts was contrary
to the law. Where there was no juvenile court in a county children’s
cases under the law could legally be dealt with only by the superior
In the course of the survey it was found that over one-fourth of
the children’s cases dealt with by the courts in the 30 counties had
come before other than juvenile courts. Numerous instances were
discovered in which children’s cases received inadequate attention
because the courts were not equipped to handle them, and the data
obtained indicated that the problem of dependency and neglect was
almost entirely overlooked by the courts in counties in which no
juvenile court was functioning or in which the juvenile courts had
not the proper equipment for investigation or supervision. In one
4 Economy through Public Welfare Service, Report of Second Year’s Work of the
Georgia State Department of Public W elfare for the Year Ending June 1 1922 p 19
5 The 1925 report of the department of public welfare stated t h a t ’paid ’probation
officers were serving m 4 special courts and 9 designated courts, and that 97 designated
courts had no probation officers. A county welfare worker handling the work of the
county s poor and the school-attendance and juvenile-court work is recommended as the
practicai solution of the problem. See Footprints, Report of F ifth Year’s Work, June 1,
1925, pp. 13-16 (State Department of Public W elfare).
8 An ordinary is a county officer having im mediate or original jurisdiction in his own
right, not by deputation. The ordinary’s courts, where they still exist in the United
States, possess powers identical w ith those usually vested in the courts of probate

7 See “ In Loco Parentis,” pp. 37^38.
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county in which no juvenile court was functioning the statement was
made that the only cases of children under 16 years of age brought
to court were those in which it was decided that the child must be
sent to a reform school. In another county in which the superior
court was the only court in the county except the police court at the
county seat it was required that a definite charge be brought against
a child referred for hearing and that a warrant be sworn; and the
child had to be arrested and either sent to jail until the next term of
court or let out on bond, or if he pleaded guilty he could be heard
informally by the judge. As a result juvenile offenses for the most
part were overlooked, or if dealt with at all were handled by indi­
viduals or churches. (Some children whose offenses were not serious
were dismissed by the sheriff without hearing.) The juvenile court
of one county had no probation service and dealt with only 14 chil­
dren during the year 1923, all of them charged with being delin­
quent. In contrast, in a county where a probation officer, through
her investigation and supervision of cases had made the court a con­
structive social agency, the juvenile court dealt with 105 children
during the same year. .Over one-half of these children were brought
before the court because of dependency and neglect. The total popu­
lation of the former county was somewhat less than that of the lat­
ter, but its county seat had 3,000 more inhabitants than had that of
the second county and its child-delinquency problem was probably
as great.8
\ ,
On the basis of the findings in counties where no special court
facilities were available for handling juvenile cases it may be as­
sumed that in spite of the efforts of the State department of public
welfare not one-half of the. children fin Georgia were receiving the
benefits intended by the law providing that juvenile-court procedure
should be available to every child in the State.

Under the Georgia constitution, even if a juvenile court is desig­
nated or a special juvenile court created, these courts have only con­
current jurisdiction in certain juvenile cases. The superior court may
also exercise jurisdiction in accordance with the provisions of the
State constitution. Under the Georgia law a child under 10 years
of age is not held to be capable of committing a crime; a child 10
years of age or over, however, may be dealt with as an adult if he
comes under the jurisdiction of any court not designated as a
juvenile court. Between the ages of 10 and 16, therefore, the juve­
nile court has only concurrent jurisdiction in certain cases.
The juvenile-court standards recommended by a committee ap­
pointed by the Children’s Bureau9 call for exclusive jurisdiction of
the juvenile court in cases of delinquent, dependent, and neglected
children, and over other cases specified, stating that such jurisdic8 The population of the first county w as 26,111 and of the second 39,841; their racial
composition was slightly different. The population of the first was 52.6 per cent native
white, 46.7 per cent negro, and 0.7 per cent foreign ; of the second the population w as
76,4 per cent white, 23.2 per cent negro, and 0.4 per cent foreign.
8 Juvenile-Court Standards ; report of the com mittee appointed by the Children’s
Bureau, August, 1921, to formulate juvenile-court standards .adopted by a conference held
under the auspices of the Children’s Bureau and the National Probation Association.

U. S. ChiWren’s Bureau Publication No. 121,
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Washington, 192'3.



tion should extend at least to children up to 18 years of age and that
jurisdiction once obtained should continue until they become 21 years
of age unless the case is sooner dismissed or passes out of the juris­
diction of the court. In approximately one-third of the States the
jurisdiction of the juvenile court extends to children under 16 years
' of age; in one-third to children under 17; and in the remaining third
to children under 18, or in some States above that age.
The standards referred to would place in the juvenile courts broad
jurisdiction over adult cases involving the welfare of children, in­
cluding cases of contributing to delinquency or dependency.
The juvenile court in Georgia has jurisdiction in cases in which a
parent, guardian, or other person having custody or control of a
delinquent or neglected child, or any other person shall promote or
contribute to the conditions which render the child delinquent or
neglected. In all such cases jury trials are mandatory. If the
adult’s contributing to delinquency or neglect should constitute a
crime the juvenile court has the power only to commit such cases for
trial by the proper criminal court.10 The court also has jurisdiction
in cases where custody of a child is the subject of controversy in any
suit, except in cases where exclusive jurisdiction is vested in courts
of record. In other cases the jurisdiction of the juvenile court is
concurrent with that of courts of record.11 Few cases of this kind
come into the juvenile courts. (For suggestions with regard to
jurisdiction of the juvenile court in Georgia in other types of cases
see p. 83.)

In the majority of the 16 counties in which a juvenile court had
been designated and was functioning the standards of privacy and
informality in the hearing of children’s cases were carried out very
acceptably. In one county the hearings were held at the end of
a session of the city court, and usually about 12 or 15 persons were
present. In another county the hearings were not private, but the
room was small and few outsiders attended. In some of the courts
other than juvenile a preliminary hearing of misdemeanor cases was
held in the judge’s chambers, and the child was usually given an
opportunity to plead guilty and waive jury trial. Many of the courts
reported that the hearing was informal if the child pleaded guilty.
In a police court in one county it was said that the hearings were in
the nature of conferences with' the children and parents. Yet formal
criminal procedure, public hearings, and jury trials were not infre­
Only 3 of the 16 juvenile courts that were functioning reported
any regularity in the time of hearings. The court in one of the
more populous counties held daily hearings, but in two counties
with equally large populations only weekly sessions were held.
In the remaining counties juvenile cases were heard whenever neces­
sary. In three of the counties, it was stated that an effort was made
to have the hearings very promptly; in one of these the probation
officer tried to have the hearings on the day of the complaint. Fre­
quency of hearings is particularly important in connection with
10 Ga., Laws of 1915, No. 210, sec.. 37.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

11 Ibid., sec. 2 (d ).



detention of children who must be cared for away from their homes
pending hearing. If sessions are weekly, some children must be de­
tained the whole intervening week.
In counties having no court operating as a juvenile court the
length of time that some children had to wait after their appre­
hension until they were brought before the court proved to be a
serious matter. In most of the city courts hearings were held when­
ever necessary, but regular sessions of the superior courts were held
usually either quarterly or semiannually. I t was stated that in the
majority of counties in which superior courts handled children's
cases, children who pleaded guilty did not have to await a regular
term of court. If, on the other hand, a child did not plead guilty
and was to be brought to trial in the regular way, the period of
detention might be very long, even several months. Some of the
city courts were in so-called continuous session; that is, a case might
be brought in upon accusation at any time, and if the defendant
pleaded guilty the case was heard immediately. In other counties
weekly “ call” hearings were held by the city-court judge, and in
one county such sessions were reported twice a week. In one county
in which there was no court except the superior court it was reported
that two sessions a year were held, and there appeared to be no ar­
rangement for any intermediate hearings of children’s cases. Conse­
quently, children charged with felonies might have to wait some
months for trial before the superior court. For example, a 15-yearold boy, charged with burglary and committed to jail in November,
had to wait until March for the next term of court.

One of‘ the most important provisions of the juvenile court law
directed that there be a paid probation officer in every county of the
State. The judge of the juvenile court, with the concurrence of the
judge of the superior court, was required to appoint one or more pro­
bation officers who should be paid from county funds. In addition
volunteer probation officers might be appointed to serve without com­
Paid probation officers for juvenile work had been appointed in only
12 of the 30 counties surveyed.120 Full-time workers in 4 counties
and part-time workers in 8 counties were engaged in such work.
One of the counties having full-time probation service had two
officers—one white and one negro. The other three had only one
probation officer each; the largest of the counties, with a population
of over 70,000, had only one probation officer (250 children were
brought before the juvenile court of this county during 1923, and
in addition it was reported that large numbers of children had been
arraigned before the recorder’s and city courts). In two of the
counties having part-time workers the probation officers were also
county social workers; in one county the chief of police was paid
$16 a month to devote whatever time was necessary to juvenile
probation work; in another county the* adult probation officer re­
ceived $35 a month for juvenile work; in another the probation
12 Ga., Laws o f 1915, No. 210, secs. 22, 23, as amended by Laws of 1916, No. 575, sec
3, subsec. (b).
120 The proportion of counties w ith paid probation service w as much higher for the
counties studied than for the State as a whole.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



officer, although considered primarily the juvenile officer, gave full
time to combined adult and juvenile work; in a county having a
population of almost 65,000 (with 301 children under 16 years of
age before the juvenile court in one year) the probation work was
done by a part-time officer; in two counties the part-time workers
had no other county duties.
Volunteer probation service was used regularly by the juvenile
court in three counties. The solicitor of the city court in one county,
a minister and a woman in the second, and the county health nurse
in the third, were serving as volunteer workers for these courts.
Very little, if any, effort was being made toward obtaining proba­
tion work in the counties in which no juvenile court had been desig­
nated. In several counties such statements as the following were
made in regard to the probation service available for special cases:
The sheriff and ordinary are sometimes appointed as
probation officers for special cases by the superior-court
judge; the chief of police does probation work for the
police court.
Special probation officers are appointed by the supe­
rior-court judge for cases of first offenders and young
children. There is no probation service except when
the judge appoints some one for special cases.
The assistant chief of police, who is also attendance
officer, does most of the probation work for the judge.
Such probation work can scarcely be classified as probation serv­
ice, for it is in practice most superficial and ineffectual. The follow­
up work was very slight, and in many cases even reporting by the
probationer was very infrequent.
It was reported that neither regular nor occasional probation
service was used in eight counties, in which no designated juvenile
courts were functioning. The ordinaries who had been designated
as the juvenile-court judges in three of the counties had refused to
serve because the funds for a probation officer had not been supplied
and they had been unable to obtain probation service.
The need for more adequate probation service was recognized by
some of the larger courts. In one county the judge said that “ pro­
bation without constant oversight is equivalent to turning the
children loose.” Although 250 children were before this court in
the year 1923, very few children could be placed on probation be­
cause there was only one probation officer. The lack of efficient
service in connection with the juvenile-court work in this county
was deplored by one of the physicians interested in child welfare,
who stated: “ There is no investigation of cases, practically no
improvement is shown in any case, and there are many repeaters.”
In his charge to the grand jury during the last term of court,
the judge of the superior court in one county emphasized the neces­
sity for a probation officer, having been favorably impressed by the
constructive work which was being done by a volunteer worker
in another county in his circuit. The judge of the superior court
in another county said that he had refused to designate a juvenile
court partly because such a court could not be successful without a
probation officer, and thus far it had been impossible to obtain the
necessary funds for such a worker.
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The police records in one county showed the arrest of 36 children,
and the chief of police stated that in at least 50 cases of juvenile .de­
linquency during 1923 in which no formal charges had been pre­
ferred he had dealt with the children personally and given them
“ a talking to.” A considerable number of these should probably
have come to the attention of a probation officer for thorough in­
vestigation and follow-up work. The need for a probation officer
in this county was recognized by all interested in child-welfare
problems, but. the judge did not seem to be greatly concerned about
the situation. Thirty-seven school children in the county seat were
reported as delinquent, in that they had been suspended from school
or had given unusual trouble with discipline.

Arrest by the city police or by the sheriff was the most prevalent
method of bringing children to the attention of the court. All but
three counties reported that children were formally arrested. In
four counties, however, it was stated that formal arrests were seldom
made, the case being reported to the court by individuals or by the
In one of these counties the children were always booked at police
headquarters before reference to the juvenile court. The names,
addresses, ages, and sometimes the nature of the offenses were entered
on the daily record book of the police. Some children formally
arrested were taken to the police barracks and then released upon
the order of the probation officer. In one county it was the policy
to arrest boys and report girls to the court without arrest. In six
counties it was definitely stated that the children were taken to
the police station or the jail upon arrest.

The Georgia juvenile court law provided that “ in no case shall a
child * * * be detained in or committed to a jail, common
lock-up, or other place where said, child can come into contact
* * * with adults convicted or under arrest.” In all counties
the judge was authorized to order a reasonable sum paid from the
county treasury for the care of children under detention by an in­
corporated society or association, but if such an arrangement coulcl
not be made, the county authorities, upon recommendation of the
judge, were to establish, equip, and maintain an adequatedetention
home. In counties having a population of less than 60,000 the
judge of the juvenile court was to make arrangements for the proper
detention of children in surroundings separate and removed from
any jail, lock-up, or other place of imprisonment of adults.13

County jails.

The county jails in seven counties were used for short-term com­
mitments as well as for places of detention pending hearing. In one
county a short-term jail sentence was the usual penalty for stealing
rides on railroad trains, and n°gro girls between 16 and 18 years of
age convicted of misdemeanors were given jail sentences instead of
being sent to the chain gang.
13 Ga., Laws of 1915, No. 210, secs. 18, 19 ; Laws of 1916, No. 575.
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In only 3 of the 30 counties included in the survey was there a
definite policy which was adhered *to against detaining children
in the county"jails. In 22 -of the 30 counties children were detained
in county jails during 1923. In 1 of the 8 remaining counties
there was no jail; in 2 counties no children had been kept in
jail in 1923 (in one of these counties, however, two boys were de­
tained in the early part of 1924) ; in 2 counties the population was
small and few persons were ever detained in jail, but if occasion
arose to hold the children for the court the county jail was the only
place available.
The total number of children under 16 years of age detained in
county jails in 1923 in the counties studied was 163—44 white
children and 119 negro children. Thirteen girls were detained in
this manner. More than one-third of these children were detained
one week or more, 16 being.detained from 1 to' 4 months. In addi­
tion 242 children between 16 and 18 years of age were detained in
county jails, of whom 80.were white and 161 were negro (the race
of 1 was not reported). Forty-nine girls between 16 and 18 years
of age were detained see p. 19).
Children being held for hearing in the superior court were de­
tained for the longest periods. In one county in which there was no
juvenile court, a 12-year-old boy had been detained two months
awaiting the session of the superior court. In another county where
the superior court was the only court hearing criminal cases, a
12-year-old boy was held in the jail 10 days awaiting trial, and then
because the jury was unable to render a verdict on account of lack
of evidence he was sent back to jail to await the next term of court,
6 months later. After he had been in jail 2 months of the 6, his
mother managed to secure bond for him and he was released. A
negro boy, whose age was variously reported as 14 and IT years,
was held in the jail of another county for 6 months and 24 days be­
cause no one appeared to prosecute the; case and no one was interested
in securing his release.
In the last-mentioned county it was found that negro boys were
being held in the county jail on trivial charges. One boy 16 years
of age was committed to the jail by the recorder’s court, on a charge
of simple larceny, the accusation being that he had stolen “ three
hen eggs valued at 10 cents.” After remaining in jail 21 days he
was released, and the case was nol-prossed. A 15-year-old boy was
held in jail the same length of time on the more serious charge of
stealing a diamond ring ; but as the only witness was a man “ whom
no one would believe on oath,” the boy was finally allowed to go,
and the case was dismissed. , ■
Two other 15-year-old boys were detained in jails for periods of
one week and 25 days, respectively. One boy had been charged
with giving change for $1 when he had received $5, but at*the hear­
ing the accuser could not swear to the truth of the charge, and the
boy was allowed to go. The other boy had been accused of breaking
window glass in a dwelling house. At the hearing the owner: of the
house refused to prosecute, as “ she thought the boy’s four weeks in
jail sufficient punishment.”
In one county it was definitely stated that it was the policy to
separate the children from the adult inmates of the jail. Although
92984°—26---- 2
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in several counties it was said that whenever there was room children
were kept apart from adults, in most cases there was no separation
of children and adults of the same sex and color. An attempt was
made in all the county jails to segregate according to race and sex,
but m seven counties the provisions were inadequate. In one county
all the pnsoners were found to be enjoying the freedom of the jail
No white women were in that jail at the time of the visit, but white
and negro men and negro women all mingled in the cor­
ridors ; and two negro boys—one 12 and the other 17 years old—
were being held there. As a result of the lack of segregation in that
jail it was reported that at one time a negro girl about 17 years
of age became pregnant by a white prisoner. A 14-year-old white
girl stated that she had had immoral relations with a prisoner while
detained in jail in another county in 1921.
Because of the lack of segregation of prisoners in another jail
children were at times placed in contact with the most serious and
hardened offenders. A 12-year-old .white boy occupied for 17 days a
cell in the same corridor as that of a man convicted of murder. An­
other prisoner in that jail said to a member of the visiting commit­
tee : “ This boy should not be here; he will learn more here than he
ever dreamed of.” In another jail a Children’s Bureau agent ob­
served a 13-year-old girl, who had then been detained 13 days, in con­
versation with a woman who had been convicted of killing her
illegitimate child.
An incident which illustrates the low moral tone existing in some
of the jails was the marriage of a 17-year-old feeble-minded girl to
a man convicted of assault with intent to murder. The girl had
become acquainted with the convict by coming to the jail to visit
her brother, who was a prisoner. Without notifying the girl’s par­
ents, the jailer obtained the marriage license, and a ceremony was
performed, though it was suspected (if not actually known) that the
man had a wife in another State. The girl was permitted to visit
her husband frequently and soon became pregnant. The Children’s
Bureau agent observed a 12-year-old white boy among the prisoners
standing near the convict and his wife and jesting about them.
Jail detention for children had few advocates among the persons
interviewed;, though some did not disapprove of it .for the deten­
tion of negro children. I t was said that the jail was the only secure
place available in which to keep children until their cases could be
disposed of, but even children may break jail. A 14-year-old crip­
pled boy who was being held in the county jail until there should be
a place for him in the State training school escaped bv wriggling out
of a small opening through which the prisoners’ pans of food were
There were no matrons in any of the jails visited, but in about 20
of the counties the living quarters of the sheriff (or of his deputy)
and his family adjoined the jail. In one county the sheriff’s wife
stated that she acted as matron when women or girls were confined
in the jail. The prisoners were usually allowed in the jail corridors,
no other place being provided for exercise, but the wife of the sheriff
in one county said that she sometimes allowed children who were
being held in the jail to play in her living quarters. In over onehalf of the counties only two meals a day were served—one in the
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



morning and the other in the early afternoon. Little fresh meat
and but few vegetables were provided. In two counties the meals
were served by members of the sheriff’s family. Reading matter in
the way of magazines was furnished to a number of jails by various
women’s organizations.
The jail buildings in 16 counties were in reasonably good condi­
tion, in 4 fair, and in 6 poor. Sanitary conditions in 14 jails were
good, in 5 fair, and in 7 poor. One of the best jails and one of thè
poor type were described by the agent who visited them as follows :
The building of the best jail was of modern brick construction, well venti­
lated, steam heated, and electric lighted. The first floor contained the sheriff’s
office and living quarters and a cell block, containing four cells, for the negro
men. The second floor contained a similar cell block for the white men.
These blocks were lighted by outside windows which gave each cell plenty of
light. Juvenile offenders were placed in the same blocks with adult prisoners.
Each floor had a shower bath and stationary tubs for laundry. The third
floor contained a padded cell, another cell for special cases where Federal
prisoners were confined, and the women’s quarters. The women’s quarters
consisted of two adjoining rooms, each with a barred opening into the hall
through which the inmates might talk with the Federal prisoners. At the
time of the agent’s visit 5 white men, 8 negro men, 5 negro women, and one
17-year-old negro girl were inmates, in addition to 9 Federal prisoners. The
entire jail was clean. The sheriff said that he could afford to serve only two
meals a day—breakfast and dinner at noon—on the amount allowed him for
The building of the poorer type of jail was an old one of brick construction,
located in a very poor section. The first floor was used as the jailer’s quarters.
The second floor contained two rooms—one for the white men and one for
negro men-^-heated by coal stoves and lighted by an electric light, with cells
arranged in a center block surrounded by corridors ; two separate cells opened
on a narrow corridor with only a window at the end, each with a cot and a
toilet, for white women ; and a separate cell for violent cases, which was used
for negro women if the cells for white women were filled. Juvenile prisoners
were not separated from the adults. The jail was filthy, but it was said to be
impossible to scrub the floors because the cracks were so large that the water
ran down to the jailer’s quarters. The men prisoners were seldom required
to stay in their cells, usually sleeping on cots in the corridors (these corridors
had plenty of window space though the cells were dark).-

Among the conditions reported for other jails were: Thin mat­
tresses with no slips nor sheets and with dirty blankets for covers;
no.facilities for bathing; plumbing out òf repair—unusable toilets
or bathtubs; no bunks nor cots, the mattresses or blankets resting
directly on the floor; wooden stairways in a" four-story jail with
three doors which would have to be unlocked in case of fire.
City jails.

City jails or lock-ups were used in 12 county seats for the detention
of children under 16 years of age. Eight county seats had no city
jails, and in the remaining 10 county seats children were seldom,
if ever, detained by the police. Detention in city jails seldom lasted
more than a few days, as sessions of the mayor’s or recorder’s courts
were frequent. One of the exceptions was that of a white boy of
17 held a month in the city jail instead of the county jail, because
there were facilities for separation from adult prisoners in the
city jail. The boy finally escaped, and no effort was made to find
him because no one wished to press the charge of burglary for
which he had been arrested. In three cities children were separated
from adults in the jails, and in another city children were separated
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



from adults if there was room. There were no matrons at any of
the city jails and no means of recreation.
Because of the lack of age records in most of the city jails,
information as to the number of children under 16 detained was
available for only six counties. Fifty-eight white and 90 negro
children were detained—a total of 148, of whom 31 were girls /see
p. 20).
The jail buildings in 6 county seats were considered to be in
good condition, in 8 fair, and in 5 poor. The sanitary conditions in
6 were good, in 5 fair, and in 8 poor. One of the jails was described
by the agent who visited it as follows :
The jail was a low brick building back of the fire-engine house, near the city
stables. The horses stood in front of the jail door. Inside was a small, dark
room with three tiny windows about a foot square, heavily wired, in which
were three cells, each with four bunks. The covers were filthy, and there
were no mattresses, only a cover over the steel springs. The place was
heated by a small stove. Several prisoners had burned their way out
through the wooden ceiling. There were no chairs, only two stumps of wood
used as seats. The sink was stopped up. The chief of police said the place
was not fit for human beings and should be dynamited.

In two of the jails water was standing on the floor. In one of
these jails two white children, a boy of 16 and a girl of 14, had been
held for two nights. They had run away from a home for depend­
ent children and were held until a representative of the institution
could come for them. The boy slept on a cot near the stove in a
large room with the men prisoners; the girl was locked in a cell
which opened on this room, and through the door of which she
could hear and see everything that went on among the men.

One county had a detention home of considerable size, but it had
been used as a place of detention pending hearing in only one case
during 1923, a white girl being held there 20 days as a witness in
a rape case on trial in the superior court. . This detention home
was generally used as a reformatory and as a temporary home for
dependent children. The children to be held pending hearing
were kept in the county or city jail. Children under 16 of both
sexes and races were committed by the juvenile court to this socalled detention home. The home had the appearance of being
well managed; the boys helped with the farm work and the girls
with household duties.
In one county a room in the basement of the city hall was used
as a place of detention for white women and girls, in order that
they should not be held in the city jail. Boys were detained in
this room if no women were being held there at thé time. The room
was dark, having only two windows high up in the walls. It was
furnished with two cots and some dirty bedding. ' On one occasion
two girls who gave their âgés at 17 and 18 years had been arrested
and placed in this room; and a crowd of men and boys gathered
in front of the building because of the girls’ improper actions.
Consequently a local welfare worker had arranged for their removal
to the county jail. Obviously the purpose in providing a place of
detention in order to eliminate jail deteiition for women and girls
was not being fulfilled in this county.
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In 1923 the county almshouses of two counties had been used as
places of detention for children pending court hearings. Four
children were detained, in one almshouse about two weeks, until
homes could be found for them, and seven children were detained
in the other about a month because the county commissioners refused
to pay their board in a private home.
Nine counties made some use of private boarding homes for the
detention of dependent children under 16 years of age. These
homes were usually selected by the probation officers and were under
their supervision. In only one of the counties which had no pro­
bation officer were children ever boarded in family homes. Boarding
homes were not used for detention in five counties in which there
were probation officers; but in all these counties the judges heard
cases immediately and there was little need for detention.
Boarding homes were used chiefly as temporary homes for de­
pendent children pending placement in institutions or other perma­
nent disposition. In two counties the probation officers boarded
children in their homes. The board paid by the courts varied from
$2.50 to $4.50 a week. One of the houses used was a new, unpainted
one-story dwelling about 2. miles from the city. The foster parents
were young people with one child, who owned their house but had
not been able to finish it. Two bedrooms were kept for the use of
the juvenile-court children. The foster mother was a neat, attrac­
tive woman and kept her house very clean. All children cared for
in private homes were white. Almost no records were kept of the
number of children cared for in this way, but probably there were
not more than 50 children during 1923. The length of stay was
from a few days to one or two months.
A Salvation Army lodging house, the Good Will Industries Home,
the home of a Travelers’ Aid Society agent, and the homes of the
children’s relatives were used occasionally for the detention of

According to the records of the courts 1,257 dependent, neglected,
and delinquent children under 16 years of age were brought before
the courts in 1923 in the 30 counties surveyed. The following table
shows the types of court in which the cases were heard:
Types of court before which the cases of dependent, neglected, and delinquent
children were heard in 30 counties of Georgia, 1923
Children before the courts
Type of court

quent .

ent and

T o ta l.....................



. 253

Juvenile courts__ 8------- . . .
Recorder’s courts............ .
City courts.---- ------Superior courts.......... .....
Ordinary’s courts---------Justice of the peace courts.



Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis





These figures show that more than one-fourth of the children
brought before the courts were not receiving the benefit of juvenilecourt procedure as intended by the law. Moreover, the data prob­
ably do not give the true state of affairs as there were undoubtedly
omissions of many cases coming before courts other than juvenile,
inasmuch as information concerning age was frequently lacking.
The proportion of children coming before such courts would indicate
a serious situation, as it is obvious that little attention is given by
them to child protection. Of the 242 children coming before the
recorder’s courts, 204 were from a county in which a designated
juvenile court was functioning, but where it was the practice for
the recorder’s court to deal with children violating city ordinances,
other juvenile offenders being referred to the juvenile court.

The fact that only 8 per cent of the dependent and neglected
children before the courts were negroes is significant, indicating the
rather general lack of attention given to the protection of negro
children.14 The percentage of delinquent white and negro children
before the courts was about the same.
The following table shows the race and sex of children coming to
the attention of the courts of 30 counties of Georgia because of
delinquency or dependency and neglect in 1923:
Race and sex of children coming to the attention of the courts of 30 counties of
Georgia because of delinquency or dependency and neglect; 1923
Children before the

Childrep before the
Race and sex


Delin­ pend­
quent ent and
chil­ neglect­
dren- ed chil­


Delin­ pend­
quent ent and
chil­ neglect­
dren ed chil­


N egro...___ _____




B o y s.................................
Girls___ _____________




Race not reported..




Not reported.......... ..........




Not reported—..................









Not reported..................—




Race and sex

More than 75 per cent of the children brought to the attention of
the courts during 1923 were boys. Among the delinquent children
86 per cent were boys and 14 per cent were girls; of the dependent
and neglected children the boys and girls were almost equal in num­
ber, as would be expected. "Among the delinquent white children 87
14 According to the 1920 census w hite children comprised 58 per cent of the total child
population under 15 years of age in Georgia, and negro children 42 per cent. See Four­
teenth Census of the United States, 1920, Vol. I l l , Population, p. 203 (Washington,
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per cent were boys; among delinquent negro children 84 per cent
were boys.
Definite information could not always be obtained regarding the
ages of children. The court record frequently stated that the child
was “under 16 years,” or omitted altogether any facts as to age.
For this reason the figures given in regard to the number of children
dealt with who were under the legal juvenile-court age is undoubt­
edly incomplete. Although there were in the 30 counties 1,004
delinquent children who, from evidence on court records and from
information secured directly from court officials could safely be
counted as under 16 years of age, definite ages were given for only
899 of these children.
Almost half the boys as compared with almost two-thirds of the
girls were 14 and 15 years old when they came to the attention of the
courts. Of the 770 boys whose ages were reported, 378 were 14 and
15 years of age; 206 were 12 and 13 years; 128 were 10 and 11 years;
58 were 6 to 9 years inclusive. Of the 129 girls whose ages were re­
ported, 83 were 14 and 15 years of age; 30 were 12 and 13 years; 11
were 10 and 11 years; and 5 were 6 to 9 years inclusive.
In regard to the whereabouts of the children at the time complaint
was entered in court it was noted that 79 per cent of the delinquent
children but only 57 per Gent of the dependent and neglected children
were living with one or both parents.
The following tables show the whereabouts and the parental status
of the children coming to the attention of the courts of 30 counties of
Georgia in 1923:
Whereabouts of delinquent, dependent, and neglected children coming to the
attention of the courts of 30 counties of Georgia, 1923
Children before the courts


Total________ _______ ____ _____

Dependent and
neglected children

Per cent
Per cent
Per cent




Reporting whereabouts______ _________







Child with one or both parents______
Child with parent and step-parent3. .
Child in home of relatives___ ______
Child in foster or adoptive home____
Child in other family home _______
Child in institution_______________
Child in jail or police barracks ____
Child on streets" (runaways, etc.)____







Whereabouts not reported_____________

1 Less than 1 per cent.
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2 In a few cases with step-parent only.



Parental status of delinquent, dependent, and neglected children coming to the
attention of the courts of 30 counties of Georgia, Oy race, lf)23
Children before the courts
Delinquent children
Parental status

Father absent.
Dead_____________ - ____
Deserting..----------. -----. .
Divorced or separated____
In jail or chain gang-------Whereabouts not reported___
Mother unmarried.
Mother.absent.. . . .

Total White Negro not re Total White Negro not re*


Parents living together-----Parents not living together.

Dependent and neglected



















Dead______ ______ -_______
Deserting._____ _____ _
Divorced or separated______
Whereabouts not reported__
Parent and step-parent living to­
gether_______________________ _
Step-parent only--------- ------— ........
Parents dead, separated, in institu­
tions, or whereabouts unknown—
Parents dead___________ _____
Parents deserting___________ ...
Whereabouts of parents unknown.
1 parent dead, other unwilling or
unable to support child______
1 parent in institution, deserting,
or separated, whereabouts of
other unknown___. _________
Not reported.




















1 In 3 cases stepfathers were deserting.

The records in most of the courts gave little social information
except the facts as to the civil condition and whereabouts of the
child’s parents. The study in Georgia bore out the findings of
similar investigations in regard to the relation between poor home
conditions and juvenile delinquency.15 The homes of 32 per cent
of the white children before the courts on charges of delinquency,
whose parental status was reported, and the homes of 47 per cent
of the corresponding negro group, had been broken by the death of
one parent or by desertion, separation, or divorce; 6 per cent of the
white and 20 per cent of the negro children had no parental homes;
15 Dependent and Delinquent Children in North Dakota and South Dakota. U. S.
Children’s Bureau Publication No. 160. W ashington, 1926. Child Dependency in the
D istrict of Columbia, by Emma O. Lundberg and Mary E. Milburn. U. S. Children’s
Bureau Publication No. 140. Washington, 1924. “ The juvenile court as a constructive
social agency,” by Emma O. Lundberg. Proceedings of the Twenty-first Annual Missouri
Conference for Social W elfare Monthly Bulletin S tate Board of Charities and Cor­
rections, January, 1922. Jeffeason City, Mo., 1922.
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only 1 per cent of the delinquent white children and 7 per cent of
the negro children were orphans (the orphans made up one-third
of the number who had no parental homes); only 8 per cent of
the delinquent white children and 3 per cent of the negro children
were from step-parental homes. The number of children who were
known to have lost one parent by death amounted to almost onefourth of the total, the proportions being the same for both
white and negro. A number of the cases in which the whereabouts
of one or both parents was unknown (7 per cent of the white and
28 per cent of the colored) should probably be added to the number
of orphans and of half orphans. This is particularly true for the
negro children.
It was not possible to divide the dependency and neglect cases,
as the records usually did not indicate sufficiently the character of
the complaint. .Analysis of parental status of; the dependent and
neglected white children shows that only 13 per cent of these chil­
dren for whom such status was reported came from homes in which
both parents were present. The percentages of dependent and
neglected children who were from broken homes or who had no
parental homes was, as is natural, considerably larger than in the
case of delinquent children; 47 per cent of the children were from
homes which had been broken by the death or imprisonment of one
parent or the desertion, divorce, or separation of parents, and 34
per cent had no parental home.

A total of 163 delinquent, dependent, and neglected children under
16 years of age were detained in county jails during 1923. Of the
44 white children 38 were boys and 6 were girls; of the 119 negroes
112 were boys and 7 were girls. One hundred and seventy-six cases
of detention were reported because 11 of the 163 children were de­
tained at two .different periods and 1 child was detained three times
during the year. Following are the periods of detention:
Cases of juvenile
Tame detained
Total____________'_____________________ -___ _____ 176
Less than 1 week_____ ________ ________ ________ .____ ____ 100
Less than 1 day_______ ____ ______ ________ _____ ii__ _ 13
1 day, less than 7______ _____________ _______________ 87
1 week, less than 1 month______ j ___ _____ ____ _________ 46
1 month, less than 4__________________________________ ._16
Not reported______________ ,__________________________ _ 14

In addition to the children under 16 years of age, 242 children
between 16 and 18 years of age were detained in county jails during
1923. Of the 80 white children 67 were boys and 13 were girls; of
the 161 negroes 125 were boys and 36 were girls; the race of 1 boy
was not reported.
Age records were not kept at many of the city jails; therefore
no definite information could be obtained of the number of children
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



detained under 16 years of age. The records in 6 counties showed
that 148 children under 16 years of age (50 white boys, 8 white
girls, 67 negro boys, and 23 negro girls) had been detained in city
In one county the docket of the recorder’s court gave the number
of children between 16 and 18 years of age who had been arrested.
The total number arrested was 155—42 white boys, 28 white girls,
60 negro boys, and 25 negro girls. The records indicated that the
boys and girls arrested had remained in jail over night, as hearings
were held every morning. In addition to the number arrested 13
white boys and 1 negro boy under 18 years of age were furnished
free lodging in this jail.
The data given relate to all children-—dependent and neglected
and delinquent—detained pending hearing. It is of interest to
analyze separately the figures available relating to delin'quent chil­
dren. One hundred and forty-five of the 1,004 delinquent children
under 16 years of age before the courts of 30 counties in 1923 were
known to have been detained pending court hearing or awaiting
disposition. Undoubtedly the number is considerably understated
as the records were by no means complete on this point. Jail was
the place of detention of 137 of these 145 children; 3 were detained
in police barracks, 2 in an institution, 1 in a stockade, 1 in a hos­
pital, and 1 in an almshouse.

The offense most frequently reported for the children brought
before the courts because of delinquency was larceny. Three-tenths
of the 1,004 children dealt with in 1923 were charged with larceny,
burglary, or robbery. Almost as large a proportion of children
came to the attention of the courts because of “ disorderly conduct,”
“ malicious mischief,” “ destruction to property,” and “ disturbing
the peace.” The greatest number of offenses reported ki the girl’s
cases were various forms of immorality and disorderly conduct. It
was often difficult to classify the offenses because of the use of such
inclusive terms as “ violating city ordinance,” “ assault,” “ delin­
quency,” “ misdemeanor,” and “ felony.”
The following table shows the offenses with which delinquent
children coming to the attention of the courts of 30 counties of
Georgia in 1923 were charged, by race and sex of child:
i« Information obtained from jail or police records does not check w ith that obtained
from court records, because many children’s cases did not reach the courts or court
records were unavailable.
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Offenses w ith which delinquent children coming to the attention of the courts
of 30 counties of Georgia were charged, hy race and sex, 1923
Delinquent children under 16 years of age before the courts


Offense charged1






or sex
not re­













































































Theft or attempted theft:

Truancy, running away, vagrancy,

Offenses against morals:

Injury or attempted injury to per­

Offenses due to carelessness, spirit of
play, or mischief:
Carrying concealed weapons,
pointing or discharging fireDisorderly conduct or disturbing

Stealing rides on railroad trains..
Violating bicycle or traffic ordiViolating prohibition law or drunk-













1 In listing offenses with which children were charged before the courts the first offense was counted if
a child had been before the coruts more than once during the year. In the case of children in court more
than once for the same type of offense but before different courts, the court which gave the final disposition
was the one considered in tabulating.
1Includes 9 boys, 1 girl, and 4 children for whom sex was not reported.

because of
heard forcases were
in 19 cases
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The figures in the following table are based on the 837 formal
delinquency cases heard by juvenile and other courts. They bring
out the differences in the disposition of children’s cases by juvenile
courts and by courts having no special interest in the method of
treatment of children’s cases.
Disposition made in formal delinquency cases of children coming to the
attention of juvenile courts and of other courts in 30 counties of Georoia

Children under 16 years of age
before the courts

Disposition of case





Dismissed_____ ________________ _______________
Restitution ordered__________ __________"
F ined________________ _____ ___
Placed on probation__________________ 2..........
Placed in family home, with relatives or ë paroled ’’ to parents
Committed to detention home._____ ______
Committed to training school_____ ______2IIZIZIIII-Committed to county reformatory____
Committed to institution for dependents. . .
Committed to jail__________________________ 2~"~
Committed to chain gang..________ 2.22222222
Committed to penitentiary___ __ Z.ZZZZZZZ
Committed to State farm_________ 2...11121
Transferred to other court___________2.2222
Other disposition made______________.__222





It is particularly significant that only 3 out of 314 children who
came before other than juvenile courts were placed on probation,
although 140 of the total 523 dealt with by juvenile courts were given
this kind of help in overcoming the difficulties that had brought
them into conflict with the law. The large number of children re­
ported as being committed to a detention home were residents of
one populous county where the institution called a detention
home was in reality a county institution to which children were
committed, and was used very infrequently for the usual type of
temporary detention pending court hearing. The children com­
mitted to the detention home, the county reformatory* and the
State training school made a total of 177, or 34 per cent of the
whole number coming before the juvenile courts who were committed
to institutions for delinquent children. Only 31 children, or 10 per
cent of the children whose cases were heard in other courts, were
so committed (this number included 2 to the State farm and 3 to
the penitentiary). It was found that the recorder’s courts particu­
larly, and the city and superior courts to a less extent, imposed fines
freely, although the juvenile courts reported few such dispositions
of cases. Sentences to penitentiary, jails, and chain gangs were
never reported by juvenile courts, but 37 children under 16 years of
age were given this punishment by the courts that were not intended
under the law to handle children’s cases.
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As the data in court records regarding the number of times the
1,004 delinquent children had been before the courts were obviously
incomplete and gave only a minimum statement, little value can
be attached to them. Apparently 71 of the children had come to the
attention of courts twice (including the appearance reported in
this study) ; 17, three times; 3, four times; and 1, six times.

The Georgia law provides that the juvenile court may hear and deter­
mine cases of contributing to delinquency and neglect in the manner
provided by law in cases of misdemeanors. All such cases must be tried
by jury. If the facts constitute a crime the juvenile court has
power only to commit for trial by the proper criminal court. For
the purpose of enforcing its judgments the juvenile court may con­
tinue proceedings, placing the adult on probation and requiring
bond or other surety conditional on compliance with its orders.17
In Georgia penalty for rape is death, unless leniency is recom­
mended by the jury, the penalty then being the same as for assault
with intent to commit rape—imprisonment in the penitentiary at
hard labor for 1 to 20 years.18
Proceedings against adults committing crimes against children
were initiated by a complaint followed by a preliminary hearing
before a justice of the peace. No doubt many cases which should
have been prosecuted were dismissed by the justice on the ground
of lack of sufficient evidence, but no statistics were available in
regard to these cases. The mere statement of the child, was not
sufficient, corroborative testimony being required, Cases in which
the justice of thé peace considered that further action was warranted
went before a grand jury, and if a true bill was returned the case
was tried in the superior court by the ordinary criminal procedure.
In only one county was it reported that it was customary to clear
the court room of all but those connected with the case. In the other
counties children were put on the stand and cross-examined before
a jury in a crowded court room.
The superior courts of Georgia had no provision for social in­
vestigation, and practically nothing was done to safeguard the chil­
dren involved in these cases except in counties in which probation
officers were connected with the juvenile court. Complaints were
often made to the juvenile probation officers, and they brought about
the prosecution of the adult. Through the efforts of the probation
officer some constructive plan was frequently made for the child, such
as removal from a detrimental environment or arrangement for
supervision in the home. In the majority of cases, concerning which
information was obtained, no special knowledge of the conditions
surrounding the children was indicated, nor were any measures taken
for the protection of children. Frequently no action was taken
against a man committing an offense against a girl, but the girl
was dealt with as a delinquent.
« Ga., Laws of 1915, No. 210, sec. 37.
*8 Ga., Park’s Annotated Code 1914 (P en al), secs. 94, 98.
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The reported number of adults charged with crimes against chil­
dren, as indicated by the court records, no doubt represents only
a small proportion of the actual number of cases. In 10 counties
no cases were reported. In 20 counties 44 cases were reported,
involving 46 adults and 45 children under 18- years of age.
Probably this does not represent the actual number of court cases,
since the information on the records in regard to the ages of the
children was often inadequate, especially in seduction cases. In
27 cases reported by the courts the charge was rape (including 1
with the additional charge of assault and battery), in 7 assault
with attempt to rape, in 5 seduction, in 2 incest, in 1 fornication,
in 1 sodomy, and in 1 immorality. One of the 27 rape cases involved
two children, in 1 two men and an older woman were charged with
offenses against a child, and in 1 case two men were so charged. One
man was involved in 2 different cases.
Following are the ages of the children involved in the 44 cases
of offenses against children coming to the attention of the courts of
20 counties of Georgia in 1923:
Number of





years_____ {.-------------------------years_______________________
years_______ ___ _______ j___
years____ _:_____ ‘-------------- *_




Number of

14 years______________________ 15 years-_________________ ____
16 years________________ »--------“ Under 14 years ”_____________
“ Under 16 years ”_____________
Age not reported________ ._____ _


In about one-sixth of the cases the adults complained against were
related to the children (two fathers were charged with incest, two
stepfathers with rape) ; and in one-half of the cases it was definitely
stated that the 26 adults involved were not related. For the re­
mainder of the cases no report was made as to relationship.
The following tables show the relationship of defendants to chil­
dren and the dispositions made in cases of offenses against children,
by charge, in the 20 counties.
Relationship of defendants to children in cases of offenses against children
coming to the attention of the courts of 20 counties of Georgia, 1923

i Responsible for placing girl in a house of prostitution.
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Disposition in cases of offenses against children, hy charge, in 20 counties of
Georgia, 1923
Charges in cases of offenses against
Disposition of case


Total cases______ _____
Sentenced to penitentiary.......... ........
Other sentence imposed...............
Found not guilty............................
No bill and no case_________
Case nol-prossed_____________ _
No prosecution and settled out of court...
Case pending at end of year____
Dismissed by justice—___ ______








to rape








1Includes 2 cases of incest, 1 of sodomy, 1 of fornication, and 1 of immorality.
*Includes 1 case in which 2 men were involved, 1 charged with rape and 1 with assault and battery.

The following stories illustrate the types of case coming to the
attention of the courts:
A 12-year-old girl was found one night in a shed in company with a police­
man and was sent to the State training school “ to be reformed ” The police­
man was discharged from the force with as little publicity as possible.
A mother of four children, the oldest a girl of 11 years, reported to the proba­
tion officer that the father had been guilty of incest with the little girl. When
the case was brought to trial the mother denied the charges she had previously
made, so that nothing could be proved against the father. The children were
removed from the custody of the parents; but as the children’s aid society
would not take the girl because of her experience, the probation officer obtained
her admission to an industrial school, where she was reported to be doing well.

An 11-year-old girl was kept out of school to work for an old man who con­
ducted a fruit and confectionery stand. Her own father was so old and
decrepit that he could not work. The probation officer learned that the child
was remaining with her employer overnight and protested to the parents.
The family insisted that they needed the girl’s earnings, and for a few days
the father went to the stand with her. Soon, however, the old arrangement
was resumed, the excuse for her staying overnight being that the old man
was ill and needed her to care for him. Shortly after this the girl was missing
from her home, and the probation officer was told that she was visiting in a
neighboring town. Before word could be got to the police in this town a mes­
sage was received from them saying that the girl had been picked up by the
police and was being sent home on the midnight train. The probation officer
obtained the legal release of the child from the parents and took the girl to a
home in another city. The girl confessed that the old man had kept her over­
night in order to have immoral relations with her. In order to avoid prosecu­
tion he obtained the consent of the parents to marry her, and the ordinary,
issued the license. The probation officer and the sheriff wired the home in
which the girl had been placed not to permit her to see the old man, and his
plans were thus frustrated. He was arrested upon his return and gave bond
The girl was placed in an industrial school.
, -A- 15-year-old girl was taken out of school by her stepfather and put to work
in the fields. He repeatedly violated her, threatening to kill her if she told
Finally the girl told her mother, who confronted the stepfather with the facts'
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He denied the charge and forced the girl to leave home. She went to an
uncle’s home, but the family did not feel they could take her in, and appealed
to the social worker in the town. The girl was brought before the judge of
the city court, who committed her to the State training school. She said she
was glad to go, as she felt she would have a chance to learn something, and
as she had not had a chance even to be decent in her stepfather’s home. No
action was taken against the stepfather.

The prosecution of cases of sex offenses against children usually
presents many difficulties, some of which are illustrated by the story
that follows. In Georgia the age of consent was only 14 years10
and the penalty (death with alternative of imprisonment if the de­
fendant was recommended to mercy by the jury) made conviction
especially hard to obtain.
A 13-year-old girl made no charges against the man until it was known that
she was pregnant. She then stated that she had been overpowered by the man
after struggling to protect herself, a torn dress and bruises on her body attest­
ing to this. The age of the child was questioned, and as no birth record was
available the parents produced their marriage certificate as proof of the girl’s
age. The judge’s instructions to the jury were that “ unless the girl was posi­
tively known to be under 14 it would not be rape, that a torn dress and bruises
on the body were not evidence that the claimed struggle had taken place, that
the pregnancy of the girl was no proof of the guilt of the man, that the girl’s not
having made the charge against the man was a point against her and in the
man’s favor, and that no man could be convicted on the unsubstantiated
charge of the girl.” 4 verdict of “ not guilty ” was returned by the jury.

The Children’s Bureau survey indicated that the Georgia juvenile
court law as it was being administered was not effective in relation
to the prosecution of adults who contribute to th e. delinquency of
children or fail to give them proper care.
The juvenile-court standards drafted by the committee appointed
by the Children’s Bureau recommend that the juvenile court should
be given jurisdiction over cases of adults contributing to delin­
quency or dependency, that action in cases of delinquency should not
be limited to parents or guardians, and that finding of delinquency
or dependency of a child should not be necessary to adjudication.
They further recommend that the children involved should be pro­
tected to the extent that they should not appear in the court room
except for the purpose of testifying, and while in the court room
should be accompanied by a probation officer.20
A few statutes give juvenile courts jurisdiction over such offenses
as rape, statutory rape, and unnatural crimes committed against
minors. If the statute is ambiguous the courts take that construc­
tion which gives exclusive jurisdicion to the criminal courts.21
Laws giving the juvenile court jurisdiction in cases of contributing
to delinquency usually make such an offense a misdemeanor and do
not supersede the criminal statutes providing punishment for seri­
ous crimes such as rape and assault with intent to commit rape. In
practice where such contributing to delinquency laws have been well
19 In the m ajority of States the age is 16 or 18 years. See Laws R elating to Sex
Offenses against Children, by Reuben Oppenheimèr and Lulu L. Eckman (U. S. Children’s
Bureau Publication No. 145, Washington, 1925).
20 Juvenile-Court Standards, pp. 2, 6. U. S. Children’s Bureau Publication No. 121.
21 The Legal Aspect of the Juvenile Court, by Bernard Flexner and Reuben Oppen­
heimer, p. 19. U. S. ChUdren’s Bureau Publication No. 99. W ashington, 1922.
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drawn and adequately administered they have been found to be
effective both in cases not involving serious crimes and cases where
the offense charged would come under the statutes relating to such
crimes but because of circumstances prosecution would be difficult
to carry through successfully.
The tendency in juvenile-court legislation is toward placing in the
same court which hears children’s cases the jurisdiction over cases of
adults offending against children/so that one court may deal with all
the aspects of a case involving the welfare of the child. In order to
accomplish this it is, of course, necessary that the juvenile court;
though using equity or civil procedure in children’s cases, be vested
with criminal jurisdiction in adult cases such as contributing to the
delinquency and dependency of children. In order that the child
may be properly safeguarded and that other children may be saved
from a similar misfortune, it is essential that the court dealing with
these cases be equipped to make adequate investigation into the situa­
tion, to throw safeguards around the child, and to protect the com­
munity against adults who corrupt the morals of children or endanger
their welfare.
Laws in effect in Colorado and California illustrate broad pro­
visions with regard to the jurisdiction of the juvenile court in cases
involving offenses committed by adults against children.
The Colorado law contains the following inclusive definition of
these cases, jurisdiction being placed in the juvenile court:
Any person who shall encourage, cause, or contribute to the dependency,
neglect, or delinquency of a child, or shall do any act or acts to directly produce,
promote, or contribute to conditions which render such a child a dependent,
neglected, or delinquent child, or who, having the custody, control, or super­
vision of such child, shall willfully neglect to do that which shall directly tend
to prevent such state of dependency, neglect, or delinquency, or to remove the
conditions that render such child either a neglected, dependent, or delinquent
child, shall be proceeded against * * *. [Colo., Comp. Laws 1921, ch. 19,
sec. 644.]

The juvenile court law of California contains an equally broad
Any person who shall commit any act or omit the performance of any duty,
which act or omission causes or tends to cause or encourage any person under
the age of 21 years to come within the provisions * * * of this act, or
which act or omission contributes thereto, or any person who shall, by any
act or omission, or by threats, or commands, or persuasion, induce or endeavor
to induce any such person, under the age of 21 years, to do or to perform any
act, or to follow any course of conduct, or to so live as would cause or mani­
festly tend to cause any such person to become or to remain a person coming
within the provisions of * * * this act, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor,
and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine not exceeding one
thousand dollars or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than twoyears, or by both such fine and imprisonment, or may be released upon proba­
tion for a period of not exceeding five years, and the superior court, sitting as
a juvenile court, shall have original jurisdiction over all such misdemeanors.
* * * [Calif. Statutes of 1915, ch. 631, sec. 21.]

Georgia has no law applying to nonsupport alone. The law on
abandonment provides that if the father willfully abandons his child,
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leaving it in a dependent condition, he prosecuted for a mis­
demeanor, and the wife may testify against him. A child is con­
sidered dependent when the iather does not provide sufficient clothing
and food for its needs. Abandonment consists of both separation
from, and failure to provide necessities for, the child.22
Abandonment cases may be heard by either the city or the supe­
rior court. In 12 of the 30 counties included in the study both the
superior court and the city court handled abandonment cases; in 9
counties, as there was no city court, the superior court alone heard
them; in 8 counties the city court alone dealt with abandonment; and
in 1 other county some abandonment cases were handled by the city
court and others were settled informally by the juvenile court, though
this court had no power to enforce its orders. The usual procedure
was for the wife to swear out a warrant before the justice of the
peace (in two cities before the municipal court), and if the husband
could be located he was held in jail or under bond for the next ses­
sion of the superior or city court. If the man waived jury trial,
the case might be heard immediately.
Any one or more of the following penalties were possible in the
discretion of the judge : Chain gang not to exceed 12 months, im­
prisonment not to exceed 6 months, fine not to exceed $1,000.23 Courts
in six of the counties made use of a suspended sentence to the chain
gang and required the father to pay a regular amount toward the
support of the family. In two counties payments were made through
the sheriff, in two counties they were made through the probation
officer of the court, and in other counties by some person designated
by the judge, frequently the clerk of the court. Commitments to the
chain gang for 12 months or for shorter periods were suspended so
long as payments were kept u p ; if a man failed to pay, he was re­
quired to serve his time on the chain gang, no new trial being neces­
sary. In one of the counties a system had been worked out whereby
the man was required to report to the probation officer at stated in­
tervals, and if there was the slightest defection on his part the sen­
tence was immediately put into effect. Some courts gave the alter­
native of a fine. The fine was usually so small that it appeared to be
simply a way of dismissing the case, but in one county the judge
of the city court who handled these cases imposed large fines, hold­
ing that the alternative of a fine should not be for the purpose of
giving a man liberty without his assuming any obligations toward
his family.
The law provides that a man may be brought back from another
county or State to answer a criminal charge. When a deserting
father leaves the State requisition papers for his .extradition must
be obtained from the governor, and the county commissioners must
insure the payment of the expenses incurred. Some county authori­
ties discourage prosecution on account of the expense, and some refuse
to authorize the expenditure unless it is the custom of the court to
have the father work on the chain gang for the county, and thus
assure reimbursement. I t is evident that in these cases the family
does not benefit by the return of the father, and the real purpose of
the court action is nullified.
32 Ga., Park’s Annotated Code 1914 (P en al), sec. 116.
28 Ibid., sec. 1065.
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In one county the juvenile court sometimes heard abandonment
cases informally. The usual procedure was for the judge to send
for the man and to discuss the situation informally with him. The
judge reminded him of his duty to his family and ordered him to
pay a certain amount at regular intervals either to his wife direct
or through the probation officer. Sometimes the man did not know
that the judge had no power to enforce the order, but even if he did
he realized that if the judge’s order was not carried out he would
be brought before the city court and probably receive a chain-gang
sentence. The effectiveness of the method pursued by this juvenile
court shows the desirability of having this procedure legalized and
extended. The city-court bailiffs in one county sometimes investi­
gated home conditions in abandonment cases. In general, however,
there was a lack of adequate inquiry into the conditions, and a con­
sequent failure to take the necessary action in order to make proper
provision for the children in these families. Enforcement of the
orders of the court depended to a large extent upon the work of
probation officers or other employees who could give the necessary
supervision and see that the father fulfilled his obligations toward
his family.
Although few cases of abandonment came to the attention of the
courts, both nonsupport and desertion appeared to be widespread.
One of the causes of desertion was the prevalence of child marriages
and the irresponsibility of young couples who frequently did not
establish homes of their own but continued to live with their parents
after marriage. In many communities the wives worked outside the
home, frequently earning as much or more than the husbands; con­
sequently the fathers felt less responsibility for the support of their
families. Cases were reported that indicated an inclination of
fathers to depend upon the earnings of the mothers and of the chil­
dren as soon as the children were old enough to go to work.
During the agent’s visit in one county an abandonment case was
being tried in the superior court. When the man was ordered to
contribute $25 a month toward the support of his family and was
committed to the chain gang until he should have given bond for
$300, an old countryman who had been an interested listener during
the trial remarked: “ This is the first time I ever knew that a man
could be made to support his children. I always knew that children
Were supposed to work for the father, but did not know that a man
had to work for his children.”
Few cases handled during 1923 in the 30 counties resulted in con­
victions, and in very few cases did the family benefit by the court
action. The follow-up work in the cases of suspended sentence was
very poor, so that suspension amounted to dismissal of the case in
many instances. One judge of a superior court, however, was quite
diligent in having desertion cases followed up. During the agent’s
visit one man was in jail for abandonment, having been ordered to
pay a stated sum monthly for the support of his two daughters and
having avoided the payments. The judge ordered him arrested for
contempt of court and detained in jail until the next term of the
superior court.
If the man is required to work on the chain gang, the family re­
ceives no benefit. It was suggested to some of the judges that it
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might be well to sentence the man to work for the county, paying
to the family the wages of the man so sentenced, but they considered
that this would be too expensive for the county, as too many wives
would take advantage of such a law by having the deserting fathers
prosecuted. As a matter of county finance there may be some logic
in this contention, but it will not stand scrutiny from the point of
view of the welfare of the children that have been abandoned. In
the long run the public undoubtedly pays the bill many times over.

A total of 96 cases of abandonment came to the attention of the
courts in the 30 counties in 1923. Two were heard informally in a
juvenile court, 44 were superior-court cases, and 50 city-court cases.
In one county where the municipal court issued 17 warrants in
abandonment cases during 1923 there were records of only 7 cases
in the other courts for the same period, and only 2 persons received
sentences. In this county the solicitor of the city court stated that it
was hardly worth while to bring such cases into court, as little could
be done under the present law. Judges sometimes advised women
to take action for divorce with alimony, as support is more assured
by this method.
Following are the dispositions made in cases of abandonment com­
ing to the attention of the courts in 30 counties of Georgia in 1923:24
of cases

of cases

Total___ _____

of cases

of cases


Defendant not convicted________


Sentenced to chain gang___
No alternative_____ ___
Alternative of fine:______
Sentence suspended ____



Ordered to support family__
Placed under bond_____
Not placed under bond_

Found not guilty_______ ___
Oase nol-prossed_____ ___ ...Lj
True bill returned by grand
jury ; no further action___
No bill returned by grand
jury--------—A ----------------Man not apprehended______


Case pending____________
Disposition not reported________


Placed under bond_:____ ___


Defendant convicted _______ AL_38




Some of the stories related by the welfare workers or probation
officers illustrate the tendency of the mothers to allow deserting
fathers to return after warrants have been sworn out for their arrest.
The children frequently show the ill effects of the conditions in these
families of deserters.
In one county a woman sent word to the welfare worker that her husband
had deserted and she was in need. Investigation revealed that the mother had
been confined a day or so before, there were several other children in the
family, and no food in the house. A physician was sent to attend the woman,
food was provided, and a cook was sent to do the work. Later the family was
M,In 1 case in which a suspended chain-gang sentence w as given the man preferred to
serve sentence rather than support his fa m ily ; in another suspended case the sentence
w as later put into effect. In 2 cases men ordered to support their fam ilies were com­
m itted to ja il for failure to obey. Of the chain-gang sentences 6 were for 12 months,
1 for 6 months. Of the a lt e r a t iv e fines to the chaiD-gang sentences one w as $100 and
one w as $1,0 0 0 . In 5 of the 6 cases of true bills returned by grand jury it w as known
th a t fu r th er action had p o t been taken, pud in 1 co m p lete in fo r m a tio n w a s n o t available.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



moved to a better house. The husband remained away for five months, the
wife bringing a charge of abandonment against him. The grand jury found a
true bill against the man, who returned at the time of the trial; but as the
mother permitted him to return to the home, the case was nol-prossed.
The mother of a family worked in a factory, earning $9 a week. Her hus­
band was a rover who came home occasionally, stayed a few days or a week
or two, then was gone again, no one knew where. He contributed nothing
toward the support of his wife and four children. A 14-year-old boy worked in
a store for a very small wage. A married daughter with a child a year and a
half old, whose husband had deserted about four months before the birth of
her child, was also living at home. The family of seven lived in a house of
four rooms for which they paid $4 a month. The married daughter kept house,
but she did not seem to be normal mentally and neglected the house and the
children. Her baby was not fed properly and was constantly sick from lack
of care. No effort had ever been made to locate the deserting husbands or to
get support from them. All the children were probably below normal mentally,
as only onje child was above the first grade and one or two had been in the
first grade as much as three years. The mother’s appeal for schoolbooks was
refused by the county official, as it was considered she had been extravagant
(on $9 per week) and shduld have saved enough to buy books for the children.
A mother, her 9-year-old daughter, and three sons—7, 5, and 3 years of age,
respectively—were living in the home of the maternal grandmother, who was
old and both physically and financially unable to provide for them. The hus­
band had deserted this woman and her four children. It soon became neces­
sary to place the children in an institution so that the mother could go to
work. Institutional care promises to be continuous, as it will probably be
impossible for the mother to make a home for the children on the wages she
is able to earn.
A family consisted of the mother, a boy of 14, three girls—17, 10, and 8 years
of age—and the maternal grandmother, who was an invalid. The father de­
serted the family after several years of idleness and nonsupport. He claimed
that he was unable to work, but the doctors said that they could find nothing
physically wrong with him. The family had received public aid for several
years. The mother, who took in sewing and went out for work by the day,
had provided well for the children and had kept a clean, tidy house. The
children were neatly clothed and were kept in school until they were 14 years
of age. When the oldest daughter was 16 years old she ran away and married
a 17-yeaij-old boy, and went to live with his family on their farm. After a
few weeks the boy decided that he preferred to live with another girl and
deserted his wife, who then returned to her mother’s home. The probation
officer obtained work for the girl and also for the 14-year-old boy, who had to
leave school to help support the family.
A mother was providing for a 9-year-old son and four daughters—13, 11, 6 ,
and 4 years of age, respectively. Her husband had deserted, taking with him
the oldest child, a 14-year-old boy. The mother worked hard, doing all sorts
of odd jobs on the farm in order to make a living for the five children, but
had to apply to the county welfare board for assistance. The board furnished
her family with groceries, and with this help the mother was able to keep the
children in school fairly regularly. A short time before Christmas the rumor
reached her that the board was not satisfied with this arrangement and that
the children were to be placed in an institution. She walked more than 15
miles to talk with the agent of the county board, who told her that she was
considering placing the children in an institution, where they would receive
care and training. She promised the mother that she would not move the
children until after Christmas. But the mother, in order to remove the chil­
dren from the jurisdiction of the county welfare board, moved her family into
an adjoining county, and it was reported that by some means this plucky woman
was keeping her children in school.
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A family consisting of the father, mother, and seven children ranging in age
from 19 to 3 years, lived on a tenant farm. The father had always been shift­
less, and the family had had very indifferent support from him. In the year
before the study one of the daughters about 16 years of age accused her father
of rape. The case was brought to the justice to determine whether or not it
would be presented to the grand jury, but the justice dismissed the case on
account of lack of evidence. The father then abandoned the family. The
superior court found the man guilty on the charge of abandoning his minor
children and sentenced him to 12 months on the chain gang, followed by 6
months in jail. He could have his liberty upon giving bond for $300 to pay
to his family $25 per month and to pay the costs in the case. The man had a
brother able to pay the cost and go on the bond, but he urged the man to serve
his sentence and be rid of the entire matter instead of paying $25 per month
as long as the children were minors.

Treatment of desertion and nonsupport cases should be directed
fundamentally toward an adjustment of family difficulties! and en­
forcement of the obligations of the deserting parent. It has been
pointed out that only a small proportion of these cases are brought
to the attention of the courts. Serious difficulties exist in the way
of apprehending deserting fathers, and even when the cases are
carried through the courts very little real benefit. results for the
family. Punishment of the father through a chain-gang sentence or
a fine paid into the county treasury may in some Cases result in a
changed attitude on his. part, but even in these cases it is doubtful
whether the family often receives any assistance. When the support
of the family is ordered, it is essential that there be some means of
enforcing such an order. In a few counties the value of the proba­
tion officer’s work in these cases has been demonstrated. There is
evident need for an extension of the Georgia law to include nonsup­
port and in general to make the law really effective for the benefit of
the family. Some arrangement whereby the serving of a sentence
by a convicted man would result in payment of a portion of his
wages toward the support of the family would be of very definite ad­
vantage. In families that have suffered from neglect on the part of
the normal breadwinner there is usually special need for attention
to the welfare of the children and protection of their interests that
can be obtained only through such oversight and assistance as can be
given by probation service connected with the court dealing with
these cases.
Laws in effect in Massachusetts and Alabama illustrate adequate
provisions with regard to the treatment of nonsupport and desertion
casefe. The Massachusetts law, based in general on the uniform de­
sertion and nonsupport act recommended by the National Conference
of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws,25 gives the following defi­
nition of the application of the act:
Any husband who without just cause deserts his wife or minor child, whether
by going into another town in the Commonwealth or into another State, and
leaves them, or any or either of them, without making reasonable provision for
their support, and any husband who unreasonably neglects or refuses to pro­
vide for the support and maintenance of his wife or minor child,. and any
husband who abandons or leaves his wife or minor child in danger of becom­
ing a burden upon the public, and any parent, whether father or mother, who
deserts or willfully neglects or refuses to provide for the support and main26 Uniform desertion and nonsupport act. Drafted by t the National Conference of
Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, and by it approved and recommended for enact­
ment in all the States in 1910.
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tenance of his or her child under the age of sixteen, or whose minor child,
by reason of the neglect, cruelty, drunkenness, habits of crime, or other vice
of such parent, is growing up without education, or without salutary control,
or without proper physical care, or in circumstances exposing such child to
lead an idle and dissolute life, shall be punished by a fine of not more than
two hundred dollars or by Imprisonment for not more than one year or both.
[Mass. Gen. Laws of 1921, ch. 273, sec. 1.]

The Massachusetts law further provides that all fines imposed
under the foregoing provisions may, in the discretion of the court,
be ordered to be paid in whole or in part to the probation officer,
and to be paid by him to the wife or to the city, town, corporation,
society, or person actually supporting the wife, child or children,
or to the treasurer of the Commonwealth for the use of the State
department of public welfare, if the child has been committed to
this department. The law makes it the duty of the superintendent
of any reformatory or penal institution in which any person is con­
fined by sentence imposed under this act—provided the court im­
posing such sentence finds the wife or child of such person to be in
destitute or needy circumstances and so orders—to pay to the proba­
tion officer at the end of each week a sum equal to 50 cents for the
wife and an additional sum equal to 25 cents for each dependent
child, for each day’s hard labor performed by the person so con­
fined. 26
The Alabama law enacted in 1919 goes even further than the
Massachusetts law in some respects. It contains, however, the condi­
tion that the wife or children must be “ in destitute or necessitous
circumstances,” 27 a provision that would appear to be far less de­
sirable than that contained in the Massachusetts law, the intent
of which is to prevent destitution and the need for public support,
by enforcing parental obligations. The Alabama law reads in part
as follows:
* * * husband who shall, without just cause, desert or wilfully neglect or
refuse or fail to provide for the support and maintenance of his w ife; or any
parent who shall without lawful excuse desert or wilfully neglect or refuse
or fail to provide for the support and maintenance of his, or her, child, or
children, under the age of eighteen years, whether such parent have custody
of such child or children, or not, she or they being then and there in destitute
or necessitous circumstances, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, on con­
viction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not exceeding one hundred dol­
lars, or be sentenced to a term in the county jail, or at hard labor for the
county for a period of not more than 12 months, or the fine may be in addi­
tion to either the sentence to jail or to hard labor. When any such person
is so sentenced to hard labor for the county, the county from which said per­
son is so sentenced shall, out of the general funds of said county, pay fifty
cents for each day said prisoner is so confined at hard labor, to the Clerk of
said probate, domestic relations or juvenile court, as the case may be, for
the use of the defendant’s wife or for the use of his child, or children, under
18 years of age, or both, as the Case may b e; and the county commissioners
or board of revenue, of such county, shall make the allowance, herein pro­
vided for, every two weeks, and shall issue warrant for same on the county
treasurer, who shall pay same to said clerk. Should a fine be imposed on
such defendant by the said probate, domestic relations or juvenile court,
and be paid to the clerk of such court, said clerk shall hold said fine for the
use of defendant’s wife or for the use of his child, or children, or both; * * *
[Ala., Code 1923, Vol. II (Criminal), ch. 157, secs. 4480, 4481.]
28 Mass., Gen. Laws of 1921, ch. 273, sec. 9, as amended by Acts and Resolves of 1924,
ch. 381.
27 The phrase “ in destitute and necessitous circum stances ” im plies inability to satisfy
prim itive physical needs and also lack of the things necessary to the particular person
left without support, so that there is no fixed standard as to what constitutes such cir­
cumstances. A w ife left w ithout money and property is “ d estitute ” w ithin the statute.
(Corpus Juris 30, 1103,)
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The Alabama law places jurisdiction in nonsupport and desertion
cases under the juvenile court or domestic-relations court wherever
such courts have been established:
The probate courts of the several counties of the State shall have and exer­
cise exclusive and original jurisdiction in all cases arising under this chapter,
except in such counties in which by act of the legislature, juvenile courts or
domestic-relations courts have been or may hereafter be created and estab­
lished in which last described counties, such juvenile courts or such domestic
relations courts as the case may be shall have and exercise exclusive and
original jurisdiction of all cases arising under this chapter. [Ibid., sec. 4484.]

The law also provides that the court may in its discretion suspend
judgment and sentence, and—
having regard to the circumstances, and to the financial ability, or earning
capacity of the defendant, may make an order, which shall be subject to
change by the judge of said probate, domestic relations, or juvenile court as
the case may be, from time to time, i as circumstances may require, directing
the defendant to pay a certain sum periodically to the clerk of said probate,
domestic relations or juvenile court * * * for the use of the defendant’s
wife or for the use of his wife and child or children, or for the use of his
child or children, and to release the said defendant from custody on probation,
upon his or her entering into recognizance, or bond * * * [Ibid., sec.

Payment of extradition expenses may be made from county funds.
Probation service is provided for, the judge of the probate, domes­
tic-relations, or juvenile court having authority to call upon the
sheriff or any deputy sheriff of the county, any constable, police, or
peace officer, humane officer, or probation officer in the county, to
serve as probation officer, or he may appoint any other discreet per­
son to serve as probation officer in a nonsupport or desertion case.
The purpose of probation service is set forth as follows:
Said probation officer shall ascertain the name and address and such facts
in relation to the antecedent history and environment of the person, or per­
sons, committed to his charge as may enable him to determine what corrective
measures will be proper in the case, and shall exercise constant supervision
over the conduct of such person or persons, and make report to the judge
whenever he shall deem it necessary, or be requited so to do, and he shall
use every effort to encourage and stimulate such person to a reformation in
respect to his said offense. * * * [Ibid., sec. 4493.]

Jurisdiction in adoption cases in Georgia is in the superior court.
The petition, filed by the prospective foster parents, must contain
the consent of the child’s parents if both are living, or of the one
living, if one is dead. I f the child is a ward of an agency or insti­
tution the consent of this organization is accepted. In these cases
either the agencies or institutions have already obtained the consent
of the child’s parent or parents, or the child has been committed to
their custody by a court. Except in cases of abandonment the par­
ent must have notice, which may be by publication as required in
equity cases for nonresident defendants. The court being “ satis­
fied that such adoption would be to the interest of the child,” issues
the adoption papers, making the child the legal son or daughter
of the foster parents.28
38 Ga., Park’s Annotated Code 1914 (C ivil), sees. 3016-3017.
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The survey in Georgia showed that the courts in general were not
making any special inquiries in regard to matters relating to the
child’s welfare in connection with adoptions. Investigation was
made of conditions in the prospective foster home in only 6 of the
30 counties studied, and in only 1 of these counties were the condi­
tions in the child’s own home noted and the question of desirability
of having him removed from the guardianship of his own family
given attention.
The Georgia law relating to child-placing agencies required any
person, agency, or official doing any child placing to be licensed by
the judge of the superior court.29 It was found that this safeguard­
ing provision was being overlooked in many of the counties. A
number of children were found to have been placed by family agencies
which were not equipped to make investigations or to do follow-up
work. Instances of The breaking up of families on account of pov­
erty also were found, some mothers keeping one or more children
and surrendering one or two to a child-placing agency. Illegitimate
babies were frequently accepted at birth by an agency, with no
effort to keep the mother and child together.
The judge in one county said that he had never thought of its
being necessary to make investigations of the foster homes, but he
thought it “ a good idea” and would call on the probation officers
in the future for investigations. The judge in another county stated
that he had no arrangements for making investigations but that
“ some one around the court always knows the family petitioning
for adoption.” The ordinary in this same county sometimes made
out papers giving the children to people other than their parents,
these papers having no legal value but satisfying the parties con­
cerned. He knew little or nothing about the parents of the children
or the circumstances; they simply came to him saying that they
wanted to give the child away. Some of these children were- of
illegitimate birth; both parents of others were living and wanted
to be released from the care of the child without the expense of a
superior-court case. The ordinary said that there were half a dozen
or more such cases during 1923. The justice of the peace in this
county also did this same kind of u adopting,” having dealt with
about the same number of cases during 1923.

A total of 45 adoption records were found in the courts of the 30
counties for the year 1923—43 for white children and 2 for negro
children (exclusive of three adoptions of adults, two for inheritance,
and one for whom the reason was not reported). Following are
the ages of the children for whom legal adoption was granted:
Number of





Under 1 year------ -----------------------15
1 year, under 5______


Number of


5 years, under 10_______________
10 years and over______________
Not reported______________ _____



The reason for surrender could not be obtained very definitely
from the existing record data, as special investigation was reported
in only a very small number of cases. In nearly half of the cases
19 Ga., Law s of 1922, No. 521, secs. 1—15.
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for which the reason was given illegitimacy either was stated as the
reason for surrender of the child for adoption or was reported as a
probable cause. Undoubtedly some of the children said to have
been abandoned should be included in this group, so that probably
almost two-thirds of the adoption cases involved children of illegiti­
mate birth. The death of one or both parents appeared to bUthe
reason for adoption in only a very small proportion of cases. Only
2 of 36 known cases included in this study involved orphans, ancl
only 5 involved half orphans.
Following are the persons or agencies surrendering children for
legal adoption in the 30 counties of Georgia in 1923:
Person or agency
signing surrender


Number of

___ _ 45

Mother___________ !__ __i_____
Father_1 _____ _______ ________
Grandparents______ ;i_________



Person or agency
signing surrender

Number of

Agencies (3 home-finding societies
and 1 institution)____________ 16
Juvenile court______ ;________
No surrender (children aban­
doned) —
No report as to surrender_______

This survey did not go intensively into the question of the method
of surrender of children to the care of agencies. Evidently there
was a very liberal policy of receiving children through the signing
of a parental release, inasmuch as only 18 of the 45 children who
were recorded as given in adoption were under the legal guardian­
ship of their parents at the time of adoption.
An important phase of the adoption question is the length of
time intervening between the petition and the' final decrees. Al­
though definite data could not be obtained it was found that 18
of the children for whom there was information had lived in the
foster home less than six months. The following instances met
with in the study illustrate the desirability of adequate investiga­
tion. for the protection of thé child and the necessity for requiring
the child to be in the foster home long enough to make sure that
the placement is advisable :
After the death of her husband the mother of four children applied-to a
relief society for assistance. As the mother was considered to be a low type
mentally and morally, it was thought best that the children should be removed
from her custody, and the society arranged for the placement of the children
in foster homes in order that the mother might go to work and earn her own
support. The mother refused to cooperate, but she herself made arrangements
for two daughters, 5 and 8 years of age, to be cared for by a man and wife
who took the children and made immediate application for adoption, which
was granted without investigation, the mother signing the release. The relief
agency, hearing of the adoption, visited the foster home and thought the
children were doing very well. Later, on a report to the society that the
girls were being cruelly treated, a more thorough investigation was made.
It was found that the man and his wife beat the girls and that they were
unable to provide for them properly as they both were at work the entire day
The conditions were reported to the judge who had granted the decree of
adoption, and he required these foster parents to sign a release of the children.
father and mother died within a few months of each other, leaving a
16-year-old girl, a 9-year-old girl, and an 8 -year-old boy, a paralytic. An older
brother was able to provide for two of the children, but the 9 -year-old girl had
to be provided for by the court. With the approval of the court and a children s aid society a childless couple took the girl, and final adoption papers
were gianted at the expiration of three months. .Although the home was
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desirable it did not appear adapted to this girl. She became unruly and the
foster mother became dissatisfied. Financial reverses occurred and the foster
parents petitioned that they be relieved of their responsibility. The girl was
then returned to the society for replacement. If a longer trial period in the
home had been required, adoption would not have taken place, as the girl’s
lack of adaptability to this home would have been discovered.
A young woman with her 2-year-old child appealed to one of the Red Cross
workers for assistance. She was pregnant at the time and claimed that her
husband had deserted her, and that she was entirely destitute. The Red Cross
assumed the entire care of the woman, paid her rent, and provided for her
until after the birth of her second child. When a reasonable time had elapsed
they suggested to the mother that she obtain employment. She demurred, but
finally went to work, the Red Cross having provided a negro girl to care for
the children. The woman began to bribe the girl to stay away, so that she
might have ah excuse for not going to work. One day the following advertise­
ment appeared in the local papers:
W anted.— By a widow 18 years old, a home for her two father­
less children, girl 4 months old and boy 2y2 years old, both
healthy, attractive children. Mother unable to support them;.is
willing that they be adopted and reared in 3 good home.
In the same paper was a long “ sob story,” relating that the mother was
desirous of keeping her children, but was willing to make the sacrifice of “ the
ineffable joy and happiness of daily and nightly association with the precious
ones, if such sacrifice will insure for them such creature comforts as she is
unable to give.” The children were taken into the homes of two families the
day the advertisement appeared, the mother signing the release. No investi­
gation was made, there was no follow up to determine whether or not the'
children were properly placed, and soon after the placement of the children
the mother was arrested as a vagrant.

One judge, the^ only one interviewed who stated that he made inquiries con­
cerning conditions in the child’s own home, as well as the desirability of the
foster home, and who had never granted an adoption unless the child had been
in the foster home six months or more, refused the petition of a man who
asked to adopt five nieces1and nephews. The man was a poor tenant farmer
and had seven children of his own, all under 16 years of age. The mother of
the children he wished to adopt was dead, and the father, though an ablebodied man, had failed to contribute anything toward the support of the
children for a year, and readily signed a surrender to the uncle. The judge
thought that the father should be forced to support his children and that the
uncle wished to be assured of the legal right to work the children on his farm,
but since there was no juvenile court in this county, nor any agency equipped
to give the necessary attention to this ease, the children remained in the
uncle’s home after the adoption petition was refused.

Only within recent years have the States begun to concern them­
selves seriously with the social aspects of the problem of adoption,
but certain States have led the way, and others doubtless will follow
rapidly. The study of adoptions in Georgia brought out the fact
that almost no effort was made to safeguard the child’s interest and
that the child himself received very little consideration.
In adoption acts due consideration should be given to both the
welfare of the child and the rights of the natural parents, includ­
ing the possibility of their assuming the care of the child. The first
essential is, therefore, provision for social investigation which will
give due emphasis to each of these interests. The courts can not
properly consider the question of the disposition of the child without
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adequate information regarding conditions in his parental home,
the status of his parents, and the character of the prospective
foster home. The second essential is a trial period in the adoptive
home before a final decree is granted, in order that more adequate
knowledge of the character of the prospective home may be obtained
and in order that it may be ascertained whether the child and the
family are suited for each other. A third essential is State super­
vision of adoptions, to the end that the law may be properly enforced
and the interests of all parties safeguarded.
Examples of these essential provisions are to be found in the laws
of Minnesota, Virginia, North Dakota, Newr York, Massachusetts,
Ohio, and Oregon.30 For instance, the Minnesota law provides that
the State board of control shall be notified of the filing of a petition
for the adoption of a minor child, and it is its duty to verify alle­
gations and to investigate the condition and antecedents of the child
and the proposed foster home, making report in writing to the dis­
trict court, with recommendation. No petition shall be granted until
the child has lived in the proposed home six months. Investi­
gation and period of residence may be waived upon good cause
Closely associated with the question of adoption legislation is
the transfer of parental rights. Either in the adoption law or in
related laws the transfer of parental rights or responsibilities with­
out order or decree of court should be prohibited. No agency or
person other than relatives within the second degree should be per­
mitted to assume the permanent care and custody of a child unless
authorized to do so by a decree of a court of record. Not only is
this coming to be recognized as an important principle for the pro­
tection of children, but it is a legal safeguard in «adoption. In
several States the courts of appeal or supreme courts have held
adoptions illegal because of the fact that the change of custody
rested upon the mere signing over of the child by the parents. The
surrender of parental rights and obligations should be considered
a sufficiently serious matter to demand formal consideration by a
court, and decision should be based upon adequate information
in regard to the situation. Frequently an unmarried mother or
parents sign over a child to an agency or institution or to a private
individual because this appears to be the easiest way to be relieved
of the care of the child. Often the parents desire to give up the
custody of the child because they are unable to make proper pro­
vision for him. Sometimes,- however, the action on the part of a
parent may constitute neglect or abandonment as he relinquishes
his obligations merely for his own convenience. Even though in
many cases the child may profit by a change of custody, it is a
dangerous procedure to permit so important a transaction to take
place without the careful scrutiny of a legally constituted authority.32
80 Minn., Gen. Stat. 1913, secs. 7151-7152, as amended by Laws of 1917, ch. 222;
Va., Code 1919, sec. 5333, as amended by A cts and Jo in t Resolutions of 1922, ch. 4 84;
N. Dak., Laws of 1923, ch. 150, sec. 1 (c) ; N. Y., Consolidated Laws 1909, Domestic
Relations Law, ch. 19, art. 7, as amended by Laws of 1924, ch. 323; Mass., Gen. Laws
1921, ch. 119, sec. 14, ch. 121, secs. 18 and 19 ; Ohio, Page’s Gen. Code 1921, secs. 8024-1
and 8030-1, added by act of May 5, 1921; Oreg., Laws. 1920, sec. 9766, as amended by
Gen. Laws of 1921, ch. 215, secs. 9767, 9770, 9775, 9829, 9830, 9831.
31 For a fuller discussion of these points, and also of such subjects as parental consent,
consent of the child, provision for appeal and for annulment, safeguarding records from
publicity, and effect of adoption, see Adoption Laws in the United States, by Emelyn
Foster Peck (U. S. Children’s Bureau Publication No. 148, W ashington, 1925).

** Ibid., pp. 4-5.
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In this connection, also, provisions of the Minnesota and North
Dakota laws are of interest. The Minnesota law provides that no
person other than parents or relatives may assume permanent care
and custody of a child under 14 years of age except by order of
court, and no parent may assign or transfer his rights or duties
except as provided by law.33 The corresponding provision of the
North Dakota law gives protection to children under the age of 18

Under the Georgia law the party not in default in a divorce
granted is entitled to the custody of the minor children of the
marriage. The superior court, which has exclusive jurisdiction in
divorce cases, may exercise its discretion, however, and after look­
ing into all the circumstances may make a definite disposition of
the children, withdrawing them from the custody of either or both
parents and placing them if necessary in the care of guardians ap­
pointed by the ordinary. The court may exercise similar discretion
pending decision in a divorce suit.35 •
In the majority of cases it was found that the judge had awarded
the custody of the children to the party not in default. In two
counties the judge asked reliable persons who were acquainted with
the families about the fitness of either parent to have the custody
of the child. In three counties the juvenile-court probation officer
was sometimes called upon to make special investigations, and in- one
county where investigation had not been made the judge stated that
he would ask the probation officer to undertake thig work in the
future. Aside from these instances there was no indication in the
counties studied of special arrangements for carrying out the pro­
visions of the law as to “ looking into all the circumstances” in
regard to, the disposition of the child.
The law provided for the exercise of jurisdiction by the juvenile
court in cases where custody of a child is. the subject of controversy
in any suit,36 but it was not found to be the practice for cases involv­
ing custody to be brought to the attention of the juvenile court in
any of the counties.
Appointment of guardians of the person was usually the function
of the ordinary in 17 of the 30 counties studied. In 6 counties the
superior court exercised jurisdiction, in 3 both the superior and the
ordinary, in 2 the superior and the city court, in 1 the ordinary and
the city court, and in 1 the superior and city courts and also the
In 27 counties there were no special arrangements for investiga­
tion of such cases. The juvenile-court probation officers were called
upon in certain instances in 2 counties. In 1 county a committee
was sometimes appointed to “ hear the evidence in the case and there33Minn., Laws and Resolutions of 1919 (extra session ), ch. 51, sec. 2.
84 N. Dak., Laws of 1923, ch. 152.
33 Ga., Park’s Annotated Code, 1914 (C ivil), sec. 2971.
a> Ga., Laws of 1915, No. 210, sec. 2 ( d ) .
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after advise with the court as to what is best to be done in the
premises.” In 2 counties the ordinary stated that he personally
made investigations, and in another county the ordinary stated that
he was acquainted with everyone in the county and did not need to

In the 30 counties included in the survey, 822 final divorces were
granted in 1923. Children under 18 years of age were involved in
269 cases (33 per cent), the total number of children being 424. Fol­
lowing are the ages reported for those children:
Number of



_______ _______ 424

1 year or under_____ .______ __ _ 26
2 years, under 3__:________ fg j_20
3 years, under 4 _j____ !__ 21
4 years, under 5______ 23
5 years, under 6___ _______ i___ 27
6 years, under 7_____ _-£§__ ______ IS
7 years, under 8_____ _____ ____ 16
8 years, under 9__________ re___* 15
9 years, under 10 i____ __l£_:


Number of

10 years, under 11
fj___ - i _____ 14
11 years, under 12 ___ .________ ,_16

12 years, under 13____ Ì______ ___ 22
13 years,'under 14_______ 2 ; ____ _
14 years, under 15_________ ____
15 years, under 16______ _______ 15
16 years, under 17HL1—_____ ,__
17 years, under 18___.._^__ ___ ! ^ 8
Under 18 years (specific age not
reported)____ ____________- ____143

4 In 89 of the divorces granted in cases involving children no men­
tion was made in the records regarding the custody of the children.
Satisfactory arrangements for their care may have been 'made in
most instances, but some children probably suffered for this official
ignoring of their existence.
The following case stories illustrate the desirability of special in­
vestigations and action upon their findings in divorce cases which
involve the custody of children:
The case of an infant was referred by the city court to the juvenile court for
investigation. The city court had ordered the father to support the child, and
various charges and countercharges had been entered against the parents.
Divorce proceedings instituted in the superior court were still pending. In­
vestigation showed that the mother of the child was living with her father,
who, although he owned his; farm, appeared to be very poor. The father of
the child was living with his parents, and his mother was taking care of the
baby, who was badly neglected and very dirty. The father stated that he did
not expect to pay the support order of $12 to his wife but was willing to sup­
port his child in an institution. The juvenile court finally decided to place the
child in the care of the mother, and the father was given permission to visit the
child upon request at the office of the probation officer, since his father-in-law
would not permit him to visit his home. For 17 months this arrangement
proved satisfactory. When the. final divorce decree was granted by the superior
court the custody of the child was awarded to the mother, with permission
for the father to visit the child at residence of the mother whenever he
desired. A $12 order for the support of the child was confirmed, and the
mother continued to live with her parents.; Two weeks after the decree the
father went to visit the child and in a family quarrel shot and killed his
father-in-law. For this he was sentenced to the penitentiary for 10 to 20
years. The mother soon afterward took the child and moved to another State,
and the father was unable to learn of their whereabouts.
A family consisted of father, mother, and four girls ranging from 7 to 18
years in age. The father and mother were both immoral" and intemperate,
though the father had been a good workman. A divorce was granted early in
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J923, with the understanding that the children would be left with t^e mother,
the father sending money for their support. The father moved to another
State, and the mother claimed that he had never sent anything for the main­
tenance of the family. Three times during 1923 the mother was apprehended
for the Illicit selling of liquor and for immorality. Social agencies interceded
twice because of the children in the family. The third time the sheriff asked
the agencies to let the trial take its course, suggesting that the mother had
come to feel that, because of her children, she was privileged to break the law.
The judge said that it was a rare thing for a jury of men to convict a woman
who had children. None of the authorities seemed to have considered that it
might be proper to proceed against the woman because of the crime she was
committing against her children through her illegal acts. The mother excused
herself by saying that she had to make a living for her children.
An i n f a n t girl and a boy 2y2 years old were left with a mother who had
obtained a divorce in 1923, though the court had made no disposition of the
children. They seemed to be a burden to the mother, who was trying to give
her children to negroes when the secretary of the relief society was informed,
made protest, and reported the case in turn to the city judge, the juvenilecourt judge, and the ordinary,, for action. Being unable to obtain any court
action, the secretary accepted the children from the mother, who was entirely
willing to give them up, especially since no court action was to be taken
against her. Arrangements were made for placing the children in an orphan­
age, but this could not be done at once because they were in such poor phy­
sical condition. They were temporarily cared for by friends while medical
attention was being given. After the removal of the children the mother was
in jail several times for immorality and for selling liquor. No action had ever
been taken against her for neglecting the children, and the courts did not
seem to realize that a child-welfare problem was involved in this case.


The Georgia law forbids the marriage of girls under 14 years and
boys under 17. Girls under 18 years may not be given a license to
marry without the written consent of parent or guardian. The law
prescribes that the county ordinary who, knowingly, issues a license
without such consent or without proper precaution in inquiring as
to the facts of minority shall forfeit $500, to be recovered by the
clerk of the superior court and added to the county educational
fund. The law did not require advance notice or publication of
license, and marriage might take place immediately after the license
was issued. si 'The license must be obtained from the ordinary of
the county where the woman resides, if she is a resident of the State,
but no restriction exists for nonresidents.

Since the law does not specifically require the ordinary to record
the ages of the contracting parties when issuing a license, only
meager evidence of the extent of child marriages was available. In
1 county the ordinary kept on file. all statements from parents
giving consent to the marriages of persons under 18 years. In 3
87 Ga., Park’s Annotated Code 1914, secs. 2931, 2938. The latter section was amended
in 1924 (Laws of 1924, No. 516) to require that the application for license be posted in
the ordinary’s office for 5 days before issuance of license. This posting requirement may
be waived in emergency cases, and also if the parents or guardian of the female appear
personally and consent in w riting to the issuance of the license. If there are any grounds
for suspicion that the female is under 18 the license may be refused until w ritten consent
of parents or guardian, if any, is procured. P enalty for violation of the law. is $500.
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counties, the ordinaries had all the ages recorded: and in 3 other
counties a few ages were recorded. In 17 of the counties in which
no records of ages were kept some information was obtained from
the ordinary or other reliable person concerning instances of child
marriages which had come to his attention during 1923.
In these 17 counties the marriages of 111 girls (75 white, 36 negro)
under 18 years of age were reported. That this figure probably
greatly understates the actual number of child marriages is indicated
by the fact that 182 legitimate births to mothers (109 white, 73 ne­
gro) under 18 years of age were recorded in 10 of these counties in
1923. The incompleteness of the records is further indicated by the
fact that although in 1 of the 10 counties only 3 marriages of girls
under 18 were recorded, 39 legitimate births to mothers (23 white,
16 negro) under 18 years were recorded within the year; and in an­
other county 14 births to child mothers and only 1 such marriage
were recorded.
The PreXaience of child marriages was vouched for by practically
all the welfare workers interviewed. In one county it was estimated
that 25 per cent of all the girls married between 15 and 17 years of
age. A social worker in a mill community related the story of
a school girl of 13 who married a boy 16 or 17 years old. At the
iume y16 information was given the girl was an expectant mother
though still under 15 years of age, and the boy had appealed for
assistance as he could not meet the necessary expenses of her con­
finement. Another social worker stated that there are frequent mar­
riages of young girls between 14 and 17 years of age who give their
ages as 18. She said that young boys and girls “ get married on
Saturday, spend their honeymoon in the country on Sunday, and are
back in their places in the mill on Monday morning.”
A school-teacher reported the cases of two 13-year-old girls about
whom only the following slight information could be obtained:
One girl was the daughter of a widow with at least three children in the
home. The family lived on a small rented farm, and the mother took in
washing to help out their meager living from the farm. The girl attended
school in the winter of 1923. She was married that summer and lived with
her husband, who was about 16, on a farm near her mother.
The other 13-year-old girl had run away with a man 36 years of age instead
ol coming to school one morning, and had married him. The man owned a
farm m the neighborhood and had a fairly good home.' They -lived together for
two weeks, separated for two weeks, and lived together again. The girl had
always attended school regularly until the day of her marriage. She was
very large for her age, and might easily have led the justice of the peace
who married them to think she was older.
The father of a boy not yet 17 years of age brought suit to have his son’s
marriage annulled. The record stated that when the boy was only 15 years
of age he had gone through a marriage ceremony with a woman, who, as was
learned later, had gone by four different names. The boy had discovered
that at the time of the marriage the woman had a husband from whom she
was not divorced Publication had been given for 60 days, and as the woman
did not appear at the trial the marriage was annulled. The record did not
show how it was that the boy had obtained a license at the age of 15 years.

The legal provisions relating to child marriages in Georgia were
framed so loosely as to be practically worthless. In nearly every
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county the ordinary remarked, “ I ask the age and they nearly always
say the girl is 18, so I issue the license; the law requires nothing
more. Frequently the age of negro girls was not even asked, as
the officials said the girls do not know their own ages. In one
county in which the ages as given by the contracting parties were
recorded in each case, the bride’s age was given as 18 for 74 of the
206 marriages of white persons and for 40 of the 144 marriages of
negroes in 1923.
Two illustrations of what frequently happens as a result of not
requiring any proof of age had occurred shortly before this survey
was made. A. man aged 45 who appeared at the office of the ordinary
m one of the counties and asked for a marriage license was re­
quired to make affidavit as to the girl’s age and swore she was 18.
The law having been complied with, the ordinary thereupon granted
the license. The following day the girl’s mother came to the ordi­
nary’s office to bring habeas corpus proceedings against the man.
saying her daughter was only 12 years old. However, the man
had taken the girl out of the State. The ordinary in another county
told of the case of a young man who called for a license and gave
the age of the girl as 16. When the ordinary told him that he
would have to get the consent of her parents he asked, “ How old
does she have to be to get a license without consent ? ” Upon being
told that the legal age was 18 years he angrily remarked, “ Why
didn’t you say so ? I could have said 18 as well as 16.”
If it is stated that the girl is under 18, the ordinary holds that he
is carrying out the law if he accepts a slip of paper with a state­
ment of consent written over the name of the parent, as there is
no provision requiring that the signature be authenticated. One
ordinary who carefully kept the records of the ages stated that he
accepted the written consent of the parent without proof of identity
as he would be going beyond his authority to require it. He
admitted, however, that he had found after the licenses were issued
th'at several such statements were forgeries.
In one county a young man appeared at the ordinary’s office asking for a
marriage license. He presented what appeared to be a note from the girl’s
father stating that he was willing that his 15-year_old daughter be married.
As the ordinary was still doubtful, the young man suggested that he cali
a certain telephone number. He was told that the person replying over the
telephone was the girl’s mother and that it was satisfactory to her and the
girl’s father that the license be granted. The license was granted, and the
couple were married. Two or three days later the father appeared at the
ordinary’s office, very indignant. Investigation showed that the girl her­
self had written the note and had also answered the telephone. The girl and
her husband lived together but a few months.

The divorce records showed many separations to be attendant
upon early marriages. One judge stated that he had few cases of
divorce involving the custody of children, for most of the cases
were of couples who had married so young that they did. not know
what they wanted and had separated soon after marriage. A peti­
tion for divorce in one county charged cruel treatment and improper
care by the husband during illness of the wife, who was 13 years
of age when married and consequently unable to cope with the treat­
ment of the husband. The wife was granted the divorce and the
custody of the 5-months-old baby. Another divorce was granted a
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girl who had married at 15 years of age, the husband having deserted
less than two months after marriage. The custody of their child
was awarded to the mother.
One of the 21 divorce cases in one county in 1923 was that applied
for by a girl who at 16 years of age had married a boy of 20. They
had run away to be married, but the girl’s father overtook them
and took the girl home. A few months later the father had com­
pelled their marriage in spite of the fact that they had repented
of their previous attempt and no longer wished to marry. They
did not live happily, and no child was known to have been born
to them, although it was supposed that the father had forced the
marriage because he believed the girl to be pregnant and the boy to
be responsible.
In one desertion case the sheriff attributed the trouble to the couple’s being
“ just kids.” He said that they had been married when the girl was 13 or 14
years old and the boy about 17. They had had trouble constantly, and finally
the wife had her husband arrested for abandoning a minor child. He was able
to give bond and was not placed in jail. The grand jury found a true bill
against him, but he persuaded his wife to permit him to return home. The
case will no doubt be in court again.

A 14-year-old girl ran away and -married a man far past middle age. A few
months after her marriage the girl became very much dissatisfied, as her
husband drank and abused her. She ran away from him and was found in the
railroad station without means of getting any farther. The probation officer
went to the station to talk with the girl, who told him that her husband and
her parents were dead, but that she had an uncle to whose house she wished to
go. The probation officer took her to the uncle’s home, and there learned that
the girl’s parents were living and that she had a husband. The uncle said the
girl could not stay at his home, so the probation officer took her to her father.
The girl insisted that her father would be mean to her and said she would kill
herself. As the father insisted that the training school was the only place for
the girl, the probation officer tried to have her admitted to the school, but
though she was scarcely 15 years pld the school could not accept her because
she was married. She returned to her husband and at the age of Is years
had a child.

Although most of the officials said that they did not approve of
child marriages, they believed that marriage would correct past
wrongs and that it was better to allow a young couple to marry,
especially when a question of morality was involved. One ordinary
living in a county bordering the State line said that he had granted
licenses to many young people when he knew that the girl was under
age, because he thought that in the case of runaway couples, many
miles from home, marriage was best. Even when an ordinary in one
county was careful concerning the issuance of a license to an appli­
cant under the legal age, it was easy to obtain a license in an adjoin­
ing county.38 One ordinary told of a couple that drove up in a taxicab one day and made application for a license. As they seemed too
young he requested some proof of their age and called in the taxi
driver, who said he did not know their exact ages but doubted their
being of legal age. The ordinary refused to issue the license. Later
in the day they stopped at his office to let him know that they had
been married in an adjoining county.
^ See footnote 37, p. 41, for 1924 amendment requiring a five-day interval between
application for and issuance of marriage license.
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General provisions of marriage laws have been given much con­
sideration by various organizations concerned with reform of legisla­
tion. The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State
Laws worked on this subject for several years and issued a draft of
a “ Uniform marriage and marriage license act.” 39 The Russell
Sage Foundation has made some extensive studies of existing mar­
riage laws and their operation.40 Proposals for uniform marriage
and divorce legislation have been presented to Congress.
The aspects of marriage laws that are of special importance in
considering the marriages of minors are: (1) The marriageable
age; (2) requirements as to proof of age; (3) requirements as to
parental consent; (4) interval between application for and issuance
of license; and (5) special provisions for approval of marriages of
persons under specified ages by public authorities, and investigation
prior to such approval.
Under the Georgia law girls of 14 and boys of 17 might be
married legally. A minimum age of 16 for girls has been established
by law in 16 States.41 Certainly a marriageable age below 16 is
not in harmony with present-day standards for the protection of
children. Some provision for exceptions to be approved under
specific circumstances by responsible authorities may be necessary.
Experience in child labor law administration has demonstrated
the importance of reliable proofs of age. The fact that birth
registration is now sufficiently complete in 33 States and the District
of Columbia to entitle them to admission to the birth-registration
area of the United States makes it reasonable to insert in marriage
laws requirements for documentary evidence of age comparable to
those contained in the best child labor laws.42
The Georgia law requires the written consent of parent or guardian
for girls under 18 years of age. The ease with which this pro­
vision can be evaded under present conditions has been illustrated
in this report. Adequate provision for verification of consent should
be made. The marriage license act proposed in 1911 by the National
Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws would re­
quire parental consent for both males and females between the
marriageable age and the age of legal majority, such consent to be
given under oath or certified under the hand of the parents and
verified by an affidavit which is to be filed, and the fact of consent
to be entered on the license docket.43
Child marriages are often hasty marriages and provision for
interval between application' for and issuance of license is an im­
portant safegaurd. The measure drafted by the National Con­
ference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws proposes five
days’ notice of intention to marry. Other proposals have recom89 Uniform marriage and marriage license act drafted by the National Conference of
Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, and by it approved and recommended for enact­
ment m all the States, a t its conference at Boston, Mass., August 21—26 1911
S^ Al“
L aw s in Their Social Aspects, A D igest, by Fred S. Hall and
Elisabeth W. Brooke (Russell Sage Foundation, New York, 1919) ; Child Marriages by
Mary E. Richmond and Fred S. H all (R ussell Sage Foundation, New York, 1925).
41 Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, M assachusetts,
Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, W est Virginia Wyoming
42 See Child Marriages, pp. 117-137.
« See American Marriage Laws in Their Social Aspects, p. 23 ; Child Marriages, pp.
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mended a longer interval.44 A 1924 amendment to the Georgia law
requires an interval of five days with certain exemptions (see p. 41).
In Massachusetts the marriages of girls under 16 years and boys
under 18 years must have the approval of the probate or district court.
Applications for licenses for the marriage of young girls or boys
are subject to the investigation of the court; the probate courts are
authorized to employ a guardian ad litem for such inquiry, and
the other courts have some probation service available. It would
appear to be a reasonable arrangement in Georgia to require juvenilecourt approval of the marriage of girls or boys between the minimum
marriageable ages and the ages of legal majority. Sometimes it
might be found necessary for the juvenile court to withhold its ap­
proval, even in cases where the parents would give their consent.
Obviously, there should be careful verification of the ages alleged
for the contracting parties and of the authenticity of the evidence
of parental consent. The problem of child marriages is more im­
portant than has been realized, not alone as a question for courts
and licensing authorities but also because of the need for social work
which it creates.

' The law in effect in Georgia in regard to illegitimacy is still sub­
stantially that of TT93.45 The social policy expressed in this law is
clearly out of harmony with presentrday ideals for the protection
of children born out of wedlock. The law contains the following
statement in regard to procedure in these cases:
Any justice who knows, of his own knowledge, or has information on oath
to that effect, of any woman having a bastard child, or being pregnant with
one, which it is probable will become chargeable to the county, may issue a
warrant directed to the sheriff or any constable of the county where the case
may arise, requiring the offender to be brought before him to give security
to the ordinary of the county, in the sum of $750, for the support and edu­
cation of the child until it arrives at the age of fourteen years, or to discover
on oath the father of the child.40

On refusing to give bond or discover the father, the woman may
be incarcerated in jail for not more than three months. If the
woman brought before the justice discloses on oath the father of
the child, the justice must issue a warrant requiring that the father
be brought before him. The justice decides the question of parentage
from affidavits and testimony of both parties and may recognize or
discharge either or both parties. He may require the putative father
to give security for support and education of the child until 14
years of age and also for the expense of the mother’s confinement.
Upon failure to give such security the justice puts the accused
under bond to appear before the superior or county court, and the
case is presented to the grand jury for indictment. The usual
44 A bill introduced in the Senate of the United States in 1923 provided an interval of
two weeks (see S. 4394, 67th Cong. 4th sess. A bill to provide for uniform regulation of
marriage and divorce).
4PGa„ Park’s Annotated Code 1914 (P en al), secs. 1 3 30-1336; W atkins’s Digest of the
Laws of Georgia, 1755-1799, act of Dee. 16, 1793, No. 488, pp. 519-520.
46 Ga., Park’s Annotated Code 1914 (P en al), sec. 1330.
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sentence is 12 months in the chain gang, suspended under bond.
The bond is deposited with the ordinary, and if the child becomes
chargeable to the county the ordinary gets judgment for the full
amount of the bond.
The section of the law requiring that the mother give bond in
the amount of $750 unless she discloses the name of the father on
oath appears to be in disuse, no instance of such a bond by the
mother having been found in any of the cases studied. The object
of the law in Georgia is evidently the protection of the county
against the expense of caring for the child, rather than the pro­
tection of the child and the assurance of his rights. Dismissal of
the case appeared to be a method of disposal when the judge did
not feel that there was a special need for concern in behalf of
county funds. Although the law requires of the mother a
bond of $750 if she does not disclose the name of the father, there
is no provision in regard to the'amount of bond required from the
father. In the cases studied the bonds required were so small that
requirement of bond seemed to be merely an easy way of dismissing
the case.

Although only very meager information was available, it was evi­
dent that very few mothers attempted court action with regard to
children born out of wedlock. In 4 of the 30 counties studied no
data regarding birth status could be obtained from the birth rec­
ords. In 26 counties the records appeared to be more or less com­
plete. In 1923 the reported illegitimate births to white mothers
numbered 75, and agencies reported 12 births not found in the vitalstatistics records. The health-department records showed 454 negro
children born out of wedlock in 1923. Although illegitimate births
were recorded in all but 4 counties (and doubtless there were cases
in these counties also), in only 16 counties were cases brought before
the courts. The number of complaints was 28 (25 involving white
mothers and 3 involving negroes). But as several of these related
to births that occurred in 1922, and some of the mothers had been
sent to maternity homes in other counties or outside the State, it is
not possible to make an accurate comparison of the number of com­
plaints with the number of births.
Inasmuch as 13 of the 75 white mothers to whom illegitimate
births were reported were under 16 years of age when the child was
born, and 26 were between 16 and 18 years, it is clear that half
these mothers were themselves children in need of special pro­
tection and of such supervision as would make a recurrence of the
difficulty less likely. The character of the court action was not such
that these young mothers were protected and helped to readjust
their lives. On the contrary, some cases were discovered in this study
in which it was obviously to the serious disadvantage of the young
girl to have been through the experience of a public trial. The cases
were tried before juries in court rooms crowded with avid listeners.
The trials were frequently contested, and even the child mothers
were searchingly cross-examined.
The following summary of the data obtained in regard to court
action for the support of children born out of wedlock deals with
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white persons only. Of the 25 complaints made, 20 became either
city or superior court cases; 2 were settled without trial in upper
courts; in cases of 2 complaints Warrants were not served; i warrant
was not issued.
Six of the 20 court cases came to trial, 3 ending in conviction and
3 in acquittal. The convictions resulted as follows: One man charged
with being the father of a child born to a 13-vear-old girl was sen­
tenced to serve a chain-gang sentence “ outside" of the confines of the
chain gang ” by depositing $500 with the ordinary for the support
of the child. The case was appealed and the money not deposited.
Another man was sentenced to serve 12 months on the chain gang.
For a third man the chain-gang sentence was suspended on the fur­
nishing of a bond for $100.
Of the 14 court cases which did not come to trial, the grand jury
returned no bill in 2 cases; in 3 cases true bills were returned but
no further action was reported; 2 cases were nol-prossed; 2 were
dismissed, including the case of one man who had been sentenced on
a fornication charge; in 1 case bond was forfeited; and 4 cases were
still pending, regarding which there was no record of any action
having been taken.
In the 2 cases in which a settlement was made before final trial,
one father gave bond for $100 and the other paid about $100 to the
It is obvious that guaranties of $100 furnish very little assurance
that a child will be supported by his father until he is 14 years of
age or even during his first years of life. Because of the nature
of the trial and the small amount that can be gained for the child
by going through this ordeal, it is not strange that few mothers of
children born out of wedlock attempt court action. Information in
regard to the outcome of cases in which the father was sentenced or
in which settlement had been made was not available to show whether
the mothers or the children actually derived any benefit in the way
of support from the father.
Four of the court cases involved mothers under 16 years of age.
I t is to the credit of the authorities handling these cases that all
four of the men were indicted and tried. . Nevertheless, three of
them were found not guilty, and the fourth case, in which the man
was adjudged guilty and ordered to deposit a bond, was later ap­
pealed and no money deposited.
The following case stories illustrate court action involving very
young mothers who should have been under the protection of a
juvenile court equipped to deal with such cases in a constructive
way for the safeguarding of these child mothers. It is not only in
this type of case, however, that the work of a socialized court is
needed. The court action should be primarily for the benefit of the
children born out of wedlock, who, through the handicap of their
birth, require special protection.
A motherless girl of 14 years lived with her father and two brothers who
were poor tenant farmers. A farmer of the neighborhood took advantage of
the girl, intimidating her by threatening to kill her if she told anybody that
he had forced her to immoral relations. The girl became pregnant, and for
fear of the guilty man she placed the blame for her condition on her brother.
When plans were made to send her to a maternity home and she learned that
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she would be protected, she told the truth. After the birth of the child a
charge of bastardy was brought against the man. He was. declared by the
jury “ not guilty.” He had brought to the court several men known to be
of disreputable character, who swore that this child of 14 years was “ a com­
mon woman of lewd character.” The child was persuaded to surrender her
baby to a child-placing agency and was committed to the State training school.
While waiting the arrival of an agent to take the baby the girl ran away,
taking the infant with her. No effort had been made to find her.

A 14-year-old girl had been living in the home of an aunt because she did
not get along well with her stepmother. The child told her aunt that the uncle
was forcing her to immoral relations, but the aunt did not believe there was
any truth in what the child was telling her. The child, being pregnant, became
desperate and went to her stepmother’s home. The stepmother refused to let
her stay, and she was sent to a maternity home. After the birth of the baby
a double charge (rape and bastardy) was brought against the uncle. The jury
found him not guilty on both counts. The child mother was forced to sur­
render her baby to a child-placing agency and return to her father’s home,
the father and stepmother saying that she was needed there.

A 15-year-old girl brought a charge of seduction against a young man of a
family of much better financial and social standing than her own. It was
asserted that he was able to employ a clever lawyer who threw suspicion on
the stepfather. The jury declared the young man “ not guilty.” Nothing was
done for the child mother a»d her baby.

In one case in which there was conviction the complainant was a girl of 18
years. The man had no means and could not give bond but received a sentence
of 12 months on the chain gang. No steps were taken to assist the mother
and child.

At its annual meeting in 1922 the National Conference of Com­
missioners on Uniform State Laws approved a “ uniform illegiti­
macy act ” drafted by a committee of that organization and recom­
mended it to the States for adoption.47 This action was the out­
growth of the regional conferences held under the auspices of the
Children’s Bureau and the intercity conference on illegitimacy early
in 1920 to consider standards of legislation for the protection of
children born out of wedlock. The bill as recommended to the
States deals almost entirely with the obligation of the parents for
the child’s support. Questions relating to rights of inheritance were
not included in the bill, though these matters were recognized as
requiring special legislation. I t is obviously not the thought of the
commissioners on uniform State laws that the support sections
constitute all the provisions that are desired for the protection of
the rights of children born out of wedlock, nor that any State should
limit its legislation to this phase. The bill presented as the uniform
illegitimacy act is to be considered as a possible model for adapta­
tion by the States in relation to enforcing or defining support
Uniform illegitim acy act, drafted by the N ational Conference of Commissioners on
Uniform State Laws, and by it approved and recommended for enactment in a ll the
States, a t its conference a t San Francisco, Calif., Aug. 2-8, 1&22.
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obligations of the parents. The essential features of the act were
incorporated in laws passed in 1923 by North Dakota, South Dakota,
Nevada, and New Mexico, and in 1925 by Iowa.
The act begins with the statement, “ The parents of a child born
out of wedlock and not legitimated owe the child necessary mainte­
nance, education, and support.” The uniform act makes the father
liable for the expenses of the mother’s pregnancy and confinement.
The obligations of the parent to support the child under the laws
for the support of poor relatives are also made to apply to children
born out of wedlock. The obligation of the father whose paternity
has been judicially established in his lifetime or has been acknowl­
edged by him is enforceable against his estate in such amount as
the court may determine with regard to the various factors speci­
fied relative to the child, his mother, and the father’s lawful family.
The act provides for four types of action to enforce the obligation
of the father: (1) Civil proceedings by which the mother may re­
cover from the father a reasonable share of the necessary support
of the child (legal representatives or third persons who are furnish­
ing support may also bring action to recover support); (2) statu­
tory proceedings similar to proceedings of a quasi-criminal character
now authorized under the laws of a majority of the States but con­
taining much more satisfactory provisions than are found in most
of the existing laws; (3) criminal proceedings to be used to compel
support when the child is not in the custody of the father but
when parentage has been judicially established or has been acknowl­
edged by him; and (4) proceedings under the law governing failure
to support lawful children (these proceedings are applicable when
the child is in the custody of the father and may also be had against
a mother who has the child in her custody). A number of States
already include children born out of wedlock within the scope of
the regular nonsupport law.
Under the statute a mother may bring proceedings to compel sup­
port by the father, or, if the child is or is likely to be a public
charge, the authorities responsible for his support may institute
proceedings. Proceedings may not be brought after the lapse of
more than two years from the birth of the child, unless parentage
has been judicially established or has been acknowledged by the
father in writing or by the furnishing of support. The procedure
to be followed is specified in detail and includes a preliminary hear­
ing, binding the defendant to appear at the next term of court, and
trial by jury if either party demands a jury, otherwise by the court,
the trial to be conducted as in other civil cases.
The support judgment is to be for annual amounts, equal or
varying, until the child reaches the age of 16 years. Payments are
to be made at such periods or intervals as the court directs and may
be made to the mother or to a trustee. The court has continuing
jurisdiction tp determine the custody in accordance with the interest
of the child as well as over proceedings brought to compel support,
and it may increase of decrease the amount.
In default of security when required, either in lieu of committing
the father to jail or as a condition of release from jail, the court may
commit him to the custody of a probation officer upon such terms
regarding payments and personal reports as the the court may
direct. One of the most important clauses in the sections relating to
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the proceedings to compel support states that agreement or com­
promise concerning the support of the child shall be binding upon
the mother and child only when adequate provision is fully secured
by payment or otherwise, and when approved by a court having
jurisdiction to compel support of the child. This safeguard is an
evident need in many States.
The uniform act contemplates that jurisdiction shall be placed in
a court with socialized procedure and equipment. The probationary
features of the draft imply that the court given jurisdiction should
have a probation staff. That the tendency is toward socializing the
procedure in illegitimacy cases and emphasizing the nature of the
action as a child-welfare measure, is shown in certain States (in­
cluding New Jersey, New York, and Illinois) and in the District of
Columbiaj where the juvenile court is given exclusive or concurrent
jurisdiction over proceedings for determining parentage or securing
maintenance for childreii born out of wedlock.
In addition to the specific provisions included in the uniform ille­
gitimacy act for the support of children by those legally and mor­
ally responsible for their maintenance, the full protection of the
rights of these children and the prevention of the burden of depend­
ency that now devolves upon the public require further legal provi­
sion such as that found in the laws of Minnesota and North Da­
kota—States that have taken the lead in measures for the prevention
of dependency. These provisions are found in the laws relating to
the powers and duties of the State departments. The law relating
to the Minnesota State Board of Control states:
It shall be the duty of the board of control when notified of a woman who
is delivered of an illegitimate child, or pregnant with child likely to be ille­
gitimate when born, to take care that the interests of the child are safe­
guarded, that appropriate steps are taken to establish his paternity, and that
there is secured for him the nearest possible approximation to the care, sup­
port, and education that he would be entitled to if born of lawful marriage.
For the better accomplishment of these purposes the board may initiate such
legal or other action as is deemed necessary; may make such provision for the
care, maintenance, and education of the child as the best interests of the
child may from time to time require, and may offer its aid and protection in
such ways as are found wise and expedient to the unmarried woman approach­
ing motherhood. * * * It shall be the duty of the board to promote the
enforcement of all laws for the protection of defective, illegitimate, dependent,
neglected, and delinquent children, to cooperate to this end with juvenile
courts and all reputable child-helping and child-placing agencies of a public
or private character, and to take the initiative in all matters involving the
interests of such jchildren where adequate provision therefor has not already
been made.“

The North Dakota law, passed in 1923, provides that it shall be
the duty of the board of administration—
To secure the enforcement of laws relating to the establishment of the
paternity of illegitimate children, and the fulfillment of the maternal and
paternal obligation toward such children; to assist the unmarried, pregnant
woman, and unmarried mother in such ways as will protect the health, well­
being, and general interest of her child.







To secure the enforcement of all laws for the protection of neglected, de­
pendent, delinquent, illegitimate, and defective children, and those in need of
the special care and guardianship of the State, to take the initiative in pro­
tecting and conserving the rights and interests of such children, to inquire into


Minn., Laws of 1917, ch. 194, secs. 2—3,
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such home and community environmental conditions as tend to create delin­
quency and neglect, and to promote such remedial or preventive measures as
will strengthen parental responsibility and stimulate wholesome community
life .49


I t was impossible to ascertain the exact number of families needing
aid because of death, desertion, chronic illness, or other disability of
the father. Some information was obtained from teachers, ministers,
and other persons interested in community welfare, and from public
and private relief agencies.
In 269 families (256 white, 13 negro) reported in need of aid there
were 635 children (590 white, 45 negro) under 14 years of age.
This figure does not include 165 white children and 4 negroes whose
exact ages were not reported but who were said to be under 14 years
of age.
Following are the reasons given for the dependency of families
reported in need of aid in 30 counties of Georgia in 1923:
Reason for

fam ilies

Total______________ ____ 260
Father dead__________ l_______140
Father deserted_______ i_______ 73

Reason for

fam ilies

Father ill_____ _______________ 28
Father in penal institution_.____ 13
Parents divorced____ i t ________
Not reported__ ________ 3 ]__ ___

Some of these families were being aided by small irregular doles
which supplemented the mother’s earnings and those of the children,
who began to work as soon as they were 14 years old. A few private
organizations were trying to give sufficient aid to certain families
so that one or more of the children might receive a fair education,
but the lack of funds prevented more than a small number of chil­
dren from being so benefited.
One family-relief society reported the case of a widow with a
15-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter. During the 11. years
since the father’s death the mother had supported the children with
almost no assistance and had kept them in school. Then she had
become ill and unable to work. In view of the fact that both chil­
dren were in the high school and doing well and in recognition of
the mother’s struggle to give them a good education, the society had
undertaken to provide sufficient aid to allow the children to finish
their high-school course. This organization had a list of 30 other
fatherless families with children for whom similar opportunities
could hot be provided oh account of inadequacy of funds. The chil­
dren from one of these families had recently been placed in an orphan
asylum. Records of other agencies indicated that institutional care
was often used as a solution of the problem of the care of fatherless
: ?
When the mother is away at work all day the training of chil7
dren becomes largely a matter of chance, and delinquency is fre­
quently due to such situations. The following case is illustrative :
A widow was left with 4 children 4 to 14 years of age to support. Three
older children were married and could not help her because of their own
responsibilities. She was of a type above the average of those who came to
N, Dak., Laws of 1923, ch. 150, sec, 1 (g), (m).
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the attention of the Associated Charities. Although in poor health the mother
was courageous and went to work in a tailoring shop. The Associated Chari­
ties helped her occasionally when she was ill or when work was slack, so that
she managed to keep her family together and to put her older daughter through
high school. Just when it seemed that the situation was going to be easier
for her because her daughter could go to work, the girl married. Then the
youngest boy, aged 7, was brought before the juvenile court. He had almost
grown up on the streets, as his mother was away at work all day. He fell
in with a crowd who taught him to steal, and one day he was seen to take
money from a cashier’s window in a bank. He was so small that he had
crept up and put his hand on the ledge while two men were standing there,
without even being noticed. The juvenile court placed him in a private home.

The purpose of what have been popularly known as mothers’ al­
lowance laws is to provide care for dependent children in their own
homes and with their mothers, instead of in institutions or with
strangers. The first state-wide law providing for public aid to chil­
dren in their own homes was passed in Illinois in 1911, shortly after
the passage of a Missouri law which applied at first only to the
county in which Kansas City is located. The extension of this form
of aid was rapid. At the present time 42 States, Alaska, Hawaii,
and the District of Columbia provide for public aid to children in
their own homes. The States in which such laws have not been
enacted are Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico,
and South Carolina. The act providing mothers’ allowances for the
District of Columbia was passed by the Sixty-ninth Congress.
The White House conference on dependent children, called by
President Roosevelt in 1909, focused attention on the desirability
of placing children, whenever possible, in family homes instead of
in institutions. Its fundamental proposition was that children
should not be deprived of home care except for urgent and com­
pelling reasons, and that “ children of parents of worthy character,
* * * and children of reasonably efficient and deserving mothers
who are without the support of the normal breadwinner, should, as
a rule, be kept with their parents, such aid being given as may be
necessary to maintain suitable homes for the rearing of the chil­
The administration of this form of aid is very different from the
doles given to pauper families under the old poor laws. The assist­
ance is based on the need that is found to exist in each family, with
careful consideration of other possible resources. The mother’s fit­
ness to provide a good home for the children is taken into account,
as well as the environment and the possible need for improvement
in living conditions, in order that the public funds may be utilized
to the best advantage for the benefit of the children. The purpose
of the assistance is .to enable the children to be brought up under
good home conditions and to receive an education. If the mother is
able to do some gainful work in the home or outside this is usually
arranged for, but special emphasis is placed on the desirability of
having the mother present in the home when the children are there,
in order that, they may receive proper physical care and may be
kept from getting into difficulties that will lead them into the courts
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and institutions. After a family lias been granted public aid the
administrative agency makes visits at frequent intervals in order
to keep informed in regard to changing conditions and needs and to
supplement the aid if the necessity arises, or to decrease or disallow
the grant if conditions render this desirable. Such supervision is
necessary in order to make sure that the children receive the maxi­
mum benefit from the public funds and that the public moneys are
not wasted.
The following cases illustrate the need for aid to children in their
own homes:
The father of a family died leaving the »other, then pregnant, with four
small children to support and only $200 for all expenses. The mother moved,
and a struggle for existence began. A short time after the father’s death the
baby was born and died. The mother obtained work running a hemstitching
machine. For several years she continued to bear the strain; then she became
ill, soon developed tuberculosis, and died, leaving her family to the care of
the community. The youngest child, a deaf-and-dumb 6 -year-old boy, was sent
to an institution and the care of the other children was assumed by*relative^
or friends.
A church worker reported the case of a woman whose husband had died
about five years before, leaving her with four children. She had worked night
and day to support them, and her death had recently occurred. The church
worker who reported the case commented: “ The mother would be alive to-day
if she had not worked herself to death for her children.”

A widow was left with three children to support. The small amount of insur­
ance was soon used, and the mother and children began to visit relatives,
staying at each place until their welcome was worn out. After a time the
relatives became dissatisfied with this arrangement, and each of three families
decided to take one of thé children provided they could have papers showing
that the children were made over to them. They appeared before the ordinary,
some form of paper was duly made out for each child, and the mother went
to another town to work in a mill. The person who took the youngest child,
a cripple, expected to have her treated, but no treatment had been reported.
Soon after the children were placed with their relatives the boys, who were
10 and 12 years of age, ran away and found places where they could live and
receive some pay for work done. The foster father of one of these boys went to
the judge for advice about bringing him back home. He stated that the boy
had become impudent and difficult to manage. It was decided to leave the
boys where they were, though almost nothing was known of either of the
homes in which they were living.
The mother of five children, left penniless at the death of her husband, was
unprepared for any work by which she could earn a livelihood. Through the
help of a friend she became a teacher in the rural school at $40 a month, and
with the assistance of a sympathetic principal she was succeeding in this new
and unfamiliar work. Four of her children attended school and the fifth was
cared for by a relative during school hours.
A widow and her two oldest daughters worked in a mill, supporting five
younger children. A 12-year-old son with an excellent school record was not
attending school because he had not sufficient clothing. The aged grandparents
also were in the home.
The father of one family was chronically ill. The parents and five chil­
dren were struggling along on the earnings of two of the daughters, one
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18 and the other only 15 years of age, whose combined earnings did not
average more than $9 a week. Both girls were undernourished and liot
really able to work. At the time of the appeal to the Associated Charities
for aid these two girls were sick in bed. The family did not have even
enough chairs for all to sit down at once. None of the little children had
ever been in school, and only one of the older girls could read. Food and fuel
were given by the relief society, and it was arranged that the children should
be properly clothed and sent to school.
A widow with five children whose ages ranged from 5 to 13 years applied
for help in October, 1923. Her husband, who had made a comfortable living
for his family, had died in 1919, and since that time the family had depended
upon their earnings from the cotton picking in the fall of the year. Brit as
the cotton crop had failed in 1923 there was no employment, and the mother
was apprehensive for the winter. She had her family in a house on her
father’s rented farm, and with the help of the four hoys she worked a few
acres, enough “ to make meat for the family.” The probation officer found some
home work for this woman and arranged for her to call at his home each week
to bring back the finished work and receive a supply for the next week.
This mother earned only about $3 a week but had no house rent to pay and
no wood to buy. She and the children worked by the day in the fields during
the season in addition to cultivating a “ patch ” for themselves. During six
months of the year the children attended the rural school.
A widow was left with five daughters to support. At the time of the
inquiry, four or five years after her husband’s death, three of the girls were
married, living at some distance and in no position to assist the mother. The
older of the two girls at home was 12 years of age. The mother went to
work in the cotton mill, living in one of the mill houses at a small rent and
keeping the two girls in school. In 1923 she became ill and could no longer
work in the mill. She asked the social worker at the mill to arrange for the
older of her two daughters, then 12 years of age, to work in the mill, stating
that this meant bread or lack of bread for the family. The social worker
talked to the mill manager, who said that he would not take so young a
child into the mill, although the law of Georgia permitted a child of 12
years to work in the mill provided the mother was dependent upon the child
for support.60 At the suggestion of the manager the mother was helped
financially for several weeks through the fund furnished by the company.
The mother’s health improved somewhat, and she returned to the mill as a
weaver, receiving a fair wage. The little girl remained in school. The social
worker stated that the mother really was not physically able to work in the
mill, and it was only a question of a short time until she would break down,
and the little girls would have to take up the burden.
A widow was left with five children, the oldest a boy of 10 years, to support,
and soon had to ask assistance of a welfare organization. County relief was
obtained and supplemented by help from a private agency, all the relief being
given in kind. The mother took in sewing, but was able to earn very little in
this manner. She applied to the juvenile court to have the children cared for.
On the juvenile-court petition for the placement of three of the children it
was stated “ the mother is unable to care for them properly and admits that
she can not see after them as she should. She voluntarily agrees to the place­
ment of the children.” The 10-year-old boy was placed in the home of an uncle,
and two girls were committed to the children’s home society to be placed in
family homes.
With the aid received from public and private relief the mother has been able
to care for the remaining two children, aged 2 years and 14 months, respectively.

gee Ga., Laws Of 192 5 , No. 247, sec. 1, relating to child labor in m ills.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


As has been stated previously (see p. 2) the purpose of the Chil­
dren’s Bureau survey was not only to learn how the courts were
handling cases involving children, but also to discover the prevalence
of juvenile delinquency in the 30 counties studied and the extent to
which the problem was recognized and dealt with constructively.
The courts in these counties handled 1,004 cases of juvenile delin­
quency during 1923, juvenile courts dealing with 66 per cent (see p.
15). In counties not having juvenile courts it was exceptional to
find any appreciation of the need for them. Where it was no one’s
duty to focus attention upon delinquency among children the delin­
quency usually went unrecognized. In one county where there was no
juvenile court, a well-inform«d citizen estimated that not one delin­
quency case in 50 ever came before the superior court. In a county
which had a juvenile court but no probation officer, the court had
dealt with only 14 cases in 1923, and in a county of approximately
the same size (see p. 6) having a probation officer, 47 cases had been
handled by the court. A possible reason for the failure to recognize
delinquency was the attitude in many communities toward the poor
white people and the negroes. These two groups of people were not
expected to conform to the standards for persons higher in the social
scale, and many of their offenses were overlooked as long as they
reacted against only the delinquent himself or members of his own
group; otherwise the offenders were held strictly to account.
Whether or not delinquency among girls was recognized seemed
to depend largely upon the sex of the probation officer. If the pro­
bation officer was a man, girl offenders apparently were not so fre­
quently reported to the court. In two populous counties where the
probation officers were men, the boys’ cases constituted 91 and 93
per cent of the total number of delinquency cases handled during
1923, whereas in two counties where there were women probation
officers, the percentages of boys’ cases were 79 and 82, respectively.
Where there was no juvenile court or where the court was not do­
ing constructive work, various methods were employed in dealing
with delinquents, but as a rule they not only failed to remedy the
situation but in some cases made it worse. One such method was that
of “ jail scares.” In several counties it was found to be customary
for the officers of the law to put boys in jail for a few hours in
order to frighten them into good behavior.
Suspension from school as a method of dealing with delinquency
was found to be employed frequently. Such procedure could cer­
tainly" have no remedial effect upon the child, and the only thing
accomplished was to transfer the problem from the schools to the
communities, many of which had no machinery for dealing with it,
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



A common method of dealing with undesirable families or those
who were likely to prove so seemed to be that of passing them alone
to some other county. Many county officials failed to realize that
their own counties had any responsibility in such situations.

One of the most important factors in delinquency was the home
conditions of the children. Many children reported as incorrigible
were from broken homes or from homes where there was some abnor­
mality in the family relationships. The parents of children who
were reported as delinquent generally had little . or no education.
The shiftlessness which existed in many families may have been a
result of such diseases as hookworm and malaria, and the fact that
undernourishment was extremely common among the children.
Many of the families did not observe the simplest hygienic rules and
had no knowledge of proper diet or the preparation of foods.
In the rural districts and in the towns it was customary for both
parents to work. The parents in mill communities were away from
their homes 10 to 11 hours a day, and a large proportion of the
children were left to their own devices, though provision for over­
sight for some of the children was made through day nurseries,
negro help, and the services of neighbors and relatives.
Most of the houses occupied by the mill workers and the rural
population were small and inadequate for their needs. The usual
number of rooms per family vras two or three, and even the largest
families seldom had more than four rooms. In some of the rural
districts there were one-room shacks, with holes in the walls for
windows. The houses in incorporated mill villages had proper
plumbing and lighting, but some of the mill employees in cities
lived in rows of unpainted shacks, often barely sufficient for shelter
and containing no comforts. In one city families were found living
in tents even in the winter. Privacy was impossible under such
Most of the children reported as delinquents belonged to the fami­
lies of mill employees or tenant farmers—a very shifting population,
for when work became slack or wages were cut at one mill the family
moved on to another locality ; if a mill worker was considered
troublesome, the policy was to require the family to move; and many
families moved simply to obtain some variety in a monotonous ex­
istence. If a tenant farmer could not make his crop in one locality,
he usually packed up his few household belongings and tried his luck
in another section. This unsettled manner of living tends to lessen
respect for public opinion, as the family does not become firmly
established in any community.
Children frequently become delinquent through the influence of
adults or by imitating the actions of adults. Children who were not
delinquent were found to be living under conditions which made it
appear inevitable that delinquency would eventually result. Com­
munity as well as parental neglect was responsible for much juvenile
delinquency. Not only were communities, by their failure to take
any action, providing fertile soil for juvenile delinquency, but in
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some communities the so-called “ remedial ” measures which were
applied in cases involving actual delinquency were frequently noneffective or actually led to further delinquency.
In some counties at least one-third of all adult criminal cases com­
ing before the courts were for violation of the law applying to the
manufacture and sale of liquor. Among the causes which were said
to be responsible for this condition were the poverty due to failure of
the cotton crop, and the ready market and high returns on “ moon­
shine.” Children were found to be implicated in all phases of the
violation of this law, from the manufacturing of the liquor to the
consuming of it. They were used especially in delivering it to pur­
The following stories illustrate the way in which children were
used in the violation of law :
A boy was known to be helping his father in bootlegging. Nearly every
morning the children explained his tardiness to the teacher with the words
“ gone up over the hill in the car after w h is k y h e ’ll be along directly.” In
1923 the boy was arrested on a charge of transporting whisky; and as his
parents made oath that he was only 15 years of age, the case was heard
before the juvenile court. He was committed to the training school but was
permitted to return to his home pending admission. Just aftar these arrange­
ments were made a lawyer notified the court that he would appeal the case
for the boy’s father. The boy did not go to the training school but continued
to carry whisky as before.
A 12-year-old boy was implicated in a liquor case. He was acquitted, and
went right on carrying liquor and helping to make it. Three years later, at
the age of 15, he was sent to the penitentiary for life on a murder charge;
he had killed the man suspected of having reported this case three years before.

To what extent subnormality and delinquency were interrelated
in the communities visited could not be determined, as there were few
facilities for diagnosing mental conditions. Feeble-mindedness was
obviously a factor in many delinquency problems. These children
were described as “ not quite bright ” or “ weak-minded.” There were
others who from a description of their actions were probably of an
unstable temperament and to some extent mentally irresponsible In
only two of the counties studied were there mental clinics, and in
these the facilities for treatment were entirely inadequate. In two
other ' counties physicians occasionally examined cases for welfare
agencies. Georgia has one institution for the feeble-minded, which
can accommodate only 50 children, and one institution for the insane,
which is so overcrowded that only the most violent cases are
An example of the need for institutional care was cited by a member of a
church society who had been consulted by the parents of a 10 -year-old feeble­
minded boy. The parents had already written to the State training school for
mental defectives but were told that there would not be room for him for
at least a year and a half. The boy was sent to the local public school, but
made no progress and gave so much trouble that the teachers would not keep
him. He was a constant source of trouble to the community, stealing, mis­
treating animals, and continually doing mean, underhand things.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



As the training school for mental defectives, because of its limited accommo­
dations, could care only for those who showed some possibility of improvement,
the superintendent returned as unimprovable a 13-year-old boy who was placed
there. This boy lived with his widowed mother and 15-year-old brother on a
small farm. The brother at one time was thought to be feeble-minded also,
but when glasses were obtained for him he began doing much better in school.
The 13-year-old boy had never been able to sleep normally and rocked or rolled
himself into a slumber of exhaustion. He could not talk, feed himself, nor
attend to his natural wants. After his return from the training school he
exhibited violent tendencies toward his mother and brother.

Truancy was widespread in almost every county studied. Al­
though the number of those who believe the negro should be educated
was increasing, public opinion in general was apathetic and in no
county was there sufficient school accommodation for the negro chil­
dren of school age nor any effort (except among the negroes them­
selves) to make education compulsory. The indifference of the “ poor
whites ” to the educational opportunities for their children was fre­
quently commented upon, but it was also stated that many of these
parents could not afford to send their children to school. The opinion
was sometimes expressed that these children do not need an educa­
tion, but “ need to be taught to work.”
Only the teachers and social workers seemed to appreciate that
truancy is usually a delinquency problem. In one county which had
no probation officer, but where the teachers realized the need for one,
59 negro children under 14 years of age dropped out of one school
during the fall term of 1923. Some were suspended for delinquency,
some as young as 10 or 11 years had gone to work, and it was not
known what had become of others. In the same county 14 white
children under 16 years were suspended from three schools because
of delinquency. The teachers reported about 14 children out of the
60 enrolled in one school as being behind their grades because of
irrc^niliir 8<tt6nd3^1106#
In one county school attendance was a serious problem, and the
chief of police estimated that at least 100 negro boys and almost
as many white boys who should be in school were running the
streets. The county had no regular attendance officer, though the
superintendent of education for the county tried^ to perform these
duties with his others. The superintendent estimated that there
would be on the average five absences a day to follow up and prob­
ably one juvenile-court case a week from the schools (see p. 68).
The compulsory school attendance law 1 of Georgia applied to
children between 8 and 14 years of age and specified that all such
children should attend school for six months of each year except
“ where for good reasons, the sufficiency of which shall be deter­
mined by the board of education of the county or of the city or
town in which the child resides, the said board excuses temporarily
the child from such attendance, such boards being authorized to
take into consideration the seasons for agricultural labor and the
need for such labor in exercising their discretion as to the time for
i Qa ., Park’s

A n n o ta te d

Code, Supp. 1922, vol. 8 (P o litic a l), sec. 1440( a ) - ( g ) .

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



which children in farming districts shall be excused.” Failure to
comply with this law was punishable by a fine of $10 for the first
offense; but the law required that a written notice of the charge
should be served upon the person violating the law at least 10 days
before prosecution, and such person could prevent prosecution by
giving a bond of $50 to comply thenceforth with the requirements
of the law. The law was admittedly inadequate. The general
comment was that “ it is merely a bluff,” “ that it has no teeth,” and
that compulsory attendance could not be enforced.
Not only was the law weak but means for enforcement were
limited. The statutes required each county and municipal board of
education to employ an attendance officer paid not less than $1 nor
more than $3 a day.2 The result of this salary provision was that
few attendance officers devoted full time to thè work. Those who
might do good work had too many otheL* duties to be efficient in
following up truants, and those who gave full time were too often
not equipped to do good work. In only four counties were women
acting as attendance officers, and only ,one of these was on a full-time
basis. Two were juvenile-court probation officers, and one was a
home demonstration agent. In a number of places the school su­
perintendent was performing the duties of an attendance officer (one
superintendent was in addition the rural mail carrier). : Other per­
sons who were acting as attendance officers were a policeman, a
county agricultural agent, a fire chief, and a minister. In some'
mill schools the teachers were doing good attendance work by home
The outstanding cause of nonattendance at school was poverty.
Books had to be bought, an entrance fee frequently was required,
and tuition also was charged in some places. In most localities
arrangements were made by private charity for defraying these
expenses for poor pupils, but some children were away fróm school
for long periods before the facts were known. Many parents could
not clothe their children suitably to attend school. One attendance
officer reported that he had encountered almost no willful truancy,
the children usually being kept at home from lack of clothing. In
one county it was reported that the tuition feé of $2 a term was
responsible for keeping many children out of school among both
negroes and the poorer groups of white children. Five children
in one neighborhood were kept out for two months because the
grandfather was opposed to paying the 25-cent tax assessment for
wood, crayons, and such supplies as the county does not furnish.
Because in mill communities many mothers worked, leaving their
children to their own devices during the day with no one to see
that they attended school, and because the families in the mill dis­
tricts moved often, it was difficult to compel attendance. In. coun­
try districts children were frequently kept from school to work
on the farms, and the school attendance law offered no way to com­
bat this custom. One school superintendent stated that work was
obligatory for all the children in tenant families who could follow
a plow, as this was .the arrangement of the tenant with his landlord,
who otherwise would not hire him.
Ibid., sec. 1 4 4 4 (d ).
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



The following items from the records of one negro school give
a fair picture of many rural schools for negro children:
Boy, 13 years.—Must work to help support the family.
Boy, 8 years.—Father dead ; large family ; helps mother work.
Boy, 7 years.—Parents separated ; must care for baby while mother works.
Girl, 8 years.—Father a poor provider ; child without shoes through the
Girl, 7 years.—Father dead ; girl and sister alternate in coming to school
and remaining at home to care for baby while mother works.
Boy, 12 years.—Working ; parents indifferent.
Girl, 7 years.—Father deserted ; mother works ; girl cares for baby.
Girl, 13 years.—Father dead ; mother can not control her.
Girl, 11 years.—Father dead ; girl helps with work.
Boy, 11 years.—Compelled to work.

Both in the country and in the towns it was reported that many
parents were so shiftless that they did not care whether their children
received an education or not. Being illiterate themselves, they did
not appreciate the benefits of an education.
The attendance problem among negro children was complicated by
the fact that often the school was absent from the child, rather than
the child from the school. Most of the schools for negro children
were entirely inadequate and poorly equipped and staffed. It was
said that as a rule the parents were anxious to have their children
attend, almost the only effort to keep the negro child in school being
made by members of his own race. If all the negro children of
compulsory school age were compelled to go to school there would
be no place to put them, as there were not sufficient accommoda­
tions for those actually attending. The extent of this problem may
be estimated from the fact that in one community of 5,000 persons
it was said that 500 or more negro children were not in school. In
another community it was estimated that 25 per cent of the negro
children between 8 and 14 were not in school.

Because of its mild climate and the fact that it is on the route
between the Northwest and Florida, Georgia is the unwilling host
of a large number of “ hoboes ” beating their way north or south
as they follow the seasons. Many of these are boy runaways under
18 years of age. Those taken in custody by the railway police may
be given a jail or a chain-gang sentence, or if they stop over in the
larger towns they may come to the attention of the police for
stealing or be arrested for vagrancy. Sometimes they go to the
local jail and ask for a night’s lodging, not only to obtain free
shelter but to escape a jail sentence for vagrancy. The general
policy of the authorities who deal with such boys is to get rid of
them by getting them out of town. In some places an effort was
made to get in touch with the relatives and to return them to their
homes. This was especially true when younger children were con­
A church organization became interested in a 14-year-old boy
who was serving a chain-gang sentence for stealing a ride on a
train. The organization wired the boy’s father, who refused to do
anything saying that this was the third time the boy had run away
from home and that he should take his punishment. The organiza-
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



tion then wrote the mother, describing the conditions under which
the boy was living while working out his sentence. Within a few
days money for his fare home was received, and the boy was re­
A number of negro boys drift about from one town to another.
They can hardly be called either “ hoboes ” or runaways, as they
are usually just homeless waifs picking up a living as best they can.
Stealing and gaming are the offenses which usually bring them in
contact with the police. A negro school superintendent accounted
for these homeless boys by saying that irresponsibility is often a
characteristic of the lower types of negro parent and that if a
boy gives trouble they feel no compunction about turning him out
of the home and placing him on his own resources.

The following items were found in a court docket in regard to
one boy: At 10 years of age a truant sleeping out at night; at 11
he was arrested for loitering; at 12 years he was arrested with a
gang of boys for stealing from the 5-and-10 cent store. A month
later he was arrested again for the same reason. His latest offense
at the age of 13 was burglary.
Boys’ gangs were found to exist in the larger communities and to
a lesser extent in the small towns. In some places groups of small
boys truant from school were merely going about looking for
adventure, but unimaginative police were apt to term their activi­
ties disorderly conduct or malicious mischief. In two counties it
was noted that boys who hung about certain places waiting for a
chance to caddy were constantly giving trouble. Petty thievery
such as stealing from the 5-and-10-cent stores was a common activ­
ity of gangs. One gang was found which required that a boy steal
something before he could be admitted to membership.
In one county a gang of six boys was arrested for stealing flash
lights from a hardware store. The boys had climbed out on the limb
of a tree from which they could reach the transom over the door
and entered the store through the transom. The part of the adven­
ture which appealed to them most was gaining entrance; taking the
flash lights seemed to be an afterthought. A similar occurrence in
another county involved a group of boys between 13 and 15 years
who broke into a box car containing several thousand dollars’ worth
of goods. They took only a few packages of cigarettes and did not
disturb the rest of the contents of the car.

Homes broken by the death or desertion of a parent were in the
background of many a delinquent girl’s career. Working mothers
could not give their children the necessary protection. The crowded
living conditions among the poor whites and the negroes made inno­
cence or ignorance impossible in observing children. Ideals of
chastity did not usually form a part of a girl’s training, and in
addition she frequently had little protection either within or without
the family circle. Cases of incest were not infrequent. A 14-yearold girl who was brought before the juvenile court on a charge of
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



immorality told the judge she had just done what she had seen her
mother do. Another contributing factor in sex delinquency was
the lack of facilities for recreation and lack of education, with the
attendant inability to find pleasure in other things. The hardness
and sordidness of the lives of many of the families in both town and
rural districts was a most potent cause of delinquency. Automobile
riding was reported as contributing to the prevalence of immorality.
This innocent form of entertainment was used as a bait to lure girls
into wrong-doing. Bootleg liquor frequently acted as an aid. A
man might hire an automobile for an evening for only a few dollars
(no State driver’s license was required), pick up a girl on the street,
and go out into the country; the police found it difficult to obtain
evidence which would warrant their interference.
Segregated districts were still found to exist in one or two counties,
but there were more frequent instances of scattered disorderly
houses. A 17-year-old girl who had been an inmate of such a house
was found by the police seated on the curb at midnight. She was
taken to the police headquarters where she said she had left this
house because the carousal had become so vile she could not stand it,
but she had no place to go. Through the travelers’ aid society she
was sent to relatives in another town. An instance was reported of
a mother who kept a disorderly house, using her own daughters
as inmates. Prostitution was causing an especially difficult problem
in two communities. In one there was a large railway shop and in
the other a military camp. A very large number of prostitutes
came into the city, where the shops were located, on pay day.
Immorality among negroes seemed to be taken for granted. The
State had an institution for delinquent negro boys but none for
negro girls. Only one county in the group of 30 studied had a
negro woman probation officer, and few welfare agencies attempted
to do anything with this problem.
Venereal disease was one aspect of the situation which was re­
ceiving some attention. Local medical examiners found this disease
to be prevalent among both the white and the negro children in
some communities. A health campaign instituted by the Red Cross
in one county brought to light a serious condition in one of the rural
schools in an isolated section. The teacher welcomed the examiners
as she said she felt there was something radically wrong among the
pupils. Upon examination it was found that 14 of the 25 pupils
were infected with venereal disease. This school had no toilet facili­
ties of any kind, no supervision outside the schoolroom, and no pro­
vision for wholesome recreation. The Red Cross provided treat­
ment for the children. The parents were informed of the situation,
and through the cooperation of the superintendent and the families
a better condition of affairs was brought about.
The mill officials in a town in another county discovered that a
number of boys between 8 and 18 were infected with syphilis. The
source of infection was traced to a family which had lately moved
to the village, and they were ordered to leave town.
In one city enforced detention and treatment of diseased prosti­
tutes was carried out during 1922; treatment was given to 27 white
girls between the ages of 14 and 18. The case records of the family-
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



relief society of this city showed the disease to be very prevalent in
the families under their care. One case which had caused them con­
siderable consternation was that of an attractive 14-year-old daugh­
ter of a widow who was much superior to the usual type aided by
the organization. This girl had been working in the cotton mill at
night. She was taken violently ill, and it was found she had both
gonorrhea and syphilis. In another city the nurse at the venereal disease clinic stated that several young girls had been brought to
the clinic from the jail.

Delinquency is largely the product of environmental conditions re­
acting upon personalities. Juvenile delinquency is most prevalent
where environmental conditions are bad. Nevertheless, if a group of
children be subjected to exactly the same conditions- some will be
delinquent and some will not. It follows that a constructive pro­
gram for the reduction of juvenile delinquency in a community in­
volves (1) the formulation and carrying out of a general community
plan for the elimination of the conditions which tend to produce
delinquency, and (2) provisions for both scientific study of the per­
sonalities of delinquent children and constructive treatment adapted
to the needs of the individual child.
Community measures clearly necessary ror the reduction of juve­
nile delinquency should include the following :
1. Improvement, of the general moral tone both in towns and in
rural communities, including the enforcement of prohibition and the
suppression of prostitution.
2. Making wholesome indoor and outdoor recreation freely ac­
3. Enforcement of the compulsory school attendance law; better
adaptation of the school to the needs of the child, including special
classes for the subnormal; employment of visiting teachers dealing
with delinquency and neglect problems of school children ; provision
for physical and mental hygiene ; and individual attention to children
who present conduct problems.
4. Enforcement of regulations which keep young children off the
streets at night and away from the theaters, dance halls, and pool
rooms when not accompanied by parents or guardians, and which
prevent joy-riding by irresponsible adolescents.
5. Prosecution of adults contributing to the delinquency, de­
pendency, or neglect of children, and the protection of children from
abuse, mistreatment, and immorality.
6. Adequate provision for constructive social work by familyrelief societies, agencies for the protection and care of children, and
courts dealing with juvenile or family cases. This includes adequate
probation service for the courts, and proper facilities for detention
and for the necessary care and training of children who may thus
be saved from future delinquencies.
Treatment of juvenile delinquency in a constructive way is not
accomplished through general community measures alone. I t is also
a matter of helping the individual child to overcome the disabilities
and the bad influences that have made him delinquent. Treatment
of the child should include—
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



1. Social investigation in each case, scientific study of the delin­
quent child, and correction of physical defects.
2. Constructive supervision which will be directed toward improv­
ing conditions in the home, adjusting school difficulties, proper habit
formation, directing the use of the child’s leisure, and bringing about
better understanding of the child’s needs by the parents and others
with whom he comes into contact.
3. Work with families suffering from the effects of destitution,
poor housing, bad environment, immorality, desertion or nonsupport
by a parent, or the neglect of children because of the mother’s em­
ployment away from home.
The establishment of a juvenile court is not a panacea for juvenile
delinquency, nor will the appointment of probation officers start
children along the right road. The foundation of the work of the
judge and the probation officer must be a thorough understanding of
each individual case and of the forces that make for destruction or
for upbuilding.

The discussions of the different topics covered by the study have
indicated the general need for more adequate means of dealing with
juvenile dependency, delinquency, and related subjects as they-were
found in each of the 30 counties visited. Variations existed, how­
ever, in the extent and character of the problems and the degree to
which they were being recognized and treated.
One of the definite impressions gained from the study of the 30
counties of Georgia was that it does not pay for a community to
ignore what is actually going on. I t is not necessarily an indica­
tion of wholesome conditions when courts and public officials report
that very few children have come to their attention because of
delinquency or neglect. The study showed that in many com­
munities officials and agencies failed to recognize the delinquency
and neglect that was poisoning the community. On the other hand,
some of the activities described and the stories related in this report
bear witness to attempts that were being made to face the real
situation and correct existing evils. The best criterion of what
any county can do in the prevention and constructive treatment
of juvenile delinquency is what has actually been accomplished in
communities where conditions are similar.
To illustrate the delinquency problems that were found to exist
statements of conditions in some of the counties studied and stories
of individual cases are given below,
In counties in which no juvenile courts had been established in­
dications were not wanting of the need for preventive work and
constructive social treatment, even though the number of children
arrested and tried by the criminal courts in a given year might be
small. In one county, for example, with no juvenile court no girls
under 16 years of age and only 21 boys under this age were reported
as dealt with by the city and superior courts. This number was
doubtless an understatement, as no proof of age was required by the
courts. Probably some of the 36 children reported as 16 and 17
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis




years of age, who were dealt with by these courts, were under 16.
The chief of police reported 22 white boys under 18 years of age
arrested for violations of city ordinances and other minor offenses,
and about the same number of negro boys. Officials, teachers, and
other persons interviewed by the Children’s Bureau agents believed
that truancy, bad conditions in pool rooms, and sex delinquency
were problems which required attention. In another county in
which no juvenile court had been established few children were
brought before the criminal courts, although among the problems
reported to the agents in the course of their interviews were bad
conditions in pool rooms, sex delinquency, absence of recreation, and,
in the cotton-mill section of the city, poor housing and absence of
provision for the care of small children while the parents were at
work in the mills.
In some counties juvenile courts had been established but were
not functioning effectively because of absence of provision or in­
adequate provision for probation work. For example, a small
county with a county seat of 16,000 inhabitants presented an urban
problem of delinquency with little in the way of constructive
methods of handling it. A welfare worker in one of the mills stated
that it was useless to take cases to court because no resources for
constructive work existed. It was, therefore, not surprising that
only 14 cases of juvenile delinquency were reported as coming be­
fore the court in 1923. Housing conditions in the large mill section
were poor. The following cases were among those reported from
this county:
A 13-year-old boy who did not appear to be over 8 years of age was said to
be a thief and was always on the streets begging. He had never been referred
to the court. He had gone to live with his grandparents in the country, but as
he was beyond their control he was sent back to his mother. His father was
dead, and his mother worked in the mill to support her four children They
were all undernourished because the mother could not earn enough to buy
the proper food. All the children were irregular in their school attendance.
A mother and her three sons, 14, 11, and 8 years of age, respectively, asked
help of the Red Cross secretary, in B, late one Saturday afternoon in 1922.
The mother said that they had just arrived in town that morning, having
traveled from place to place looking for work, and that she had tried in vain
to obtain work at the mills. The Red Cross provided for them over Sunday.
Then the pastor of one of the churches in the mill district obtained work for
the mother in the mill, and with the help of the Red Cross and church or­
ganizations a house was rented, some simple furniture purchased, and a home
established for her. About a month afterward the mayor reported to the Red
Cross worker the delinquencies of the boys and the general troublesomeness
of the family. The neighbors had complained that the children were using
very bad language and that they had no regard for other people’s property.
Accidentally it was learned from a former worker of the Associated Charities
in another community that may be designated as “A” that the woman had been
known to the Associated Charities five or six years before. She had run away
from her husband and was living with another man. The children had been
found begging on the streets and were neglected. A little girl who was men­
tally deficient was placed in a special school but later had to be sent to the
State institution for the insane. The youngest boy was born out of wedlock
in a county almshouse. The father of the children was living in the mountains
with his mother. He told the Associated Charities’ worker that his wife had
been impossible to live with and at one time had tried to kill him. As he was
willing to provide a home for the children the Associated Charities took the
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



children to the juvenile court and had their custody transferred to him. While
the children were in the detention home waiting to be sent to the father, the
man with whom the mother was living had stolen them and the whole family
left the city. In the light of this history the Red Cross worker in B decided
to remove the children from their mother through the juvenile court. While
she was waiting to receive a history of the family from the social agency in
A before taking the case to court the family moved out of town during the

At the time of the agent’s visit to the city jail in B a negro girl, who
looked about 15 years of age but who gave her age as 11, was being detained
there. Two days previously she had given herself up to the police, asking
to be locked up as she had no place to stay. She claimed that her mother
lived somewhere in the southern part of the State but that she lived with
an aunt in A, a city in a neighboring county. She could not give her aunt’s
address, and the street on which she said her aunt lived was in a very ques­
tionable part of the city. The girl said that she had been before the juvenile
court in A several times for running the streets. She had come to B with
another negro girl, about 18 years of age, and had been staying with a negro
family who claimed to be friends of the other girl. The older girl got into
trouble and left the city, and this girl began to roam the streets. Her story
grew inconsistent as it was repeated, and the Red Cross secretary sent for
information from the social agencies in A. While awaiting this information
the girl was held in the city jail with an older negro woman and with no
protection from the gaze of men prisoners or of persons passing by.
A 14-year-old girl was brought to the juvenile court because of her immoral
relations with men. Her father was dead and she had been living with her
mother, who was directly responsible for the girl’s delinquencies. It was
doubted whether her father and mother had been married, although they
had lived together as man and wife. At the hearing the judge talked to the
girl privately, and she confided to him that she had seen her mother doing
the things for which she was being brought into court, and so had done
them, too. The judge arranged that the girl should go to a married sister
living in the country. When she whs placed in the custody of the sister the
judge ordered that the mother should not interfere. Only a few weeks later
the sister reported to ■'the judge that the girl had run away and married.
Efforts to locate her were unsuccessful.

In another county which had a juvenile court no probation of­
ficer had been appointed, although in 1922 a committee of 10 repre­
sentatives of civic organizations had urged the commissioners to
appropriate money for the salary of such a worker. All the agen­
cies of the community were reported to be in favor of the employ­
ment of a worker, but some were in doubt as to whether the county
could afford the expense. I t was believed that one person could
handle both the probation and the school-attendance work..
No accurate records of juvenile-court cases were kept in this county.
The solicitor said that he had “ some kind of note” on every case,
but the notes were not in such form as to furnish much information.
The police records showed the arrest of 36 children 18 years of age
or under, at least 7 of whom had been arrested more than once. The
chief of police said that in 1923 at least 50 children who were not
arrested had been dealt with by him personally and “ given a talking
to.” All children under 16 years of age were referred to the juvenile
court (formerly they had been dealt with by the recorder’s court),
but it was said that nothing was done and that the judge merely let
the children go. Children under 16 had been held iR the city jail, even
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



though it was against the law. The chief of police saw that they
were kept separate from adult prisoners. In one instance the
county refused to pay the fare for two boys to the industrial school,
at the same time providing no other means of discipline or training.
School attendance was a serious problem, and the chief of police
estimated that at least 100 negro boys and almost as many white
boys who should have been in school were on the streets. The county
superintendent of education, who held the position of attendance
officer, estimated that there would be on an average five absences a
day to follow up and probably one juvenile-court case a week from
the schools. Real truancy was rare; the chi^f problem was nonattendance or irregular attendance, to a great extent the fault of
the parents but due also to the fact that the compulsory education
law was so weak that enforcement was almost impossible.
The principal of one of the schools stated that she had found more
delinquency in the schools of the county seat of this county than
she had known during her 12 years of teaching in the South.
Thirty-seven white children from the schools in the county seat
were reported as having either been suspended or given unusual
trouble with discipline. Six of these children also had police records.
Twenty children under 14 years of age were reported as being out
of school or as having unusually irregular attendance for other
reasons than illness; some of these were included in the group of
37 reported by the principals as conduct problems. Forty-six negro
children under 14 years were either out of school or irregular in
attendance; but there was no one to follow up absences among negro
children. The teachers were supposed to do it, but with classes
already too large it was not to be expected that the teachers would
follow up absences carefully; instead they frankly admitted that
they were only too glad to have some children drop out.^ There
were only 18 teachers for 992 negro children enrolled in a school
(two buildings) under one principal, some of the classes having as
many as 70 pupils.
Better recreation facilities were greatly needed in this county.
The county seat had no public playground, and the children ran the
streets until very late hours of the night, although the officers tried
to enforce a 9.30 rule.
The following details regarding suspension obtained from the
records of three schools for white children in this county show in­
difference to enforcement of the school law and ignorance of scientific
methods of dealing with the conduct problems of children j
Boy, 13 years.—Suspended because of trouble with teacher. He wished to
return and came over to the school to apologize. The principal had taken
him to the teacher when his mother appeared and dragged him off letting
out a torrent of oaths and abuse about the teacher and the principal . He has
never returned to school.
• Boy, 14 years.—Suspended because of being a sexual pervert and not fit to
be around girls. He is not working—just running the streets.
Boy, 15 years—Suspended because he was uncontrollable, and always in
trouble— general eussedness.”
, ,
Boy, 13 years.—Suspended for refusing to empty pockets when boys in his
class were being searched for a stolen article. He has never returned to school.

■Boy, 16 years.

Suspended for drawing knife on teacher. He has never
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



Boy, 13 years.—Suspended for “ meannes^.”. He returned to school for
about a week, and then left, as he had attained his fourteenth year.
Boy, 13 years.—Suspended. Was to have received a switching and when the
principal sent him to the basement for a switch he did not return. He has
never asked to be reinstated in school.
Boy, 17 years.—Suspended for refusing to give up a package of cigarettes
to teacher. He is a sex pervert. He has never returned to school.
Boy, 15 years.—Suspended for disrespect to teacher. “ Morally depraved.”

The juvenile court of one county in which a man probation officer
was employed dealt with 210 delinquent boys and 17 delinquent
girls in 1923. The majority of these children lived in the largest
city of the county. The small number of girls did not mean that
the girls presented few problems, but rather that this phase of the
situation was overlooked because of the lack of a woman probation
officer or any other woman to do protective work in the community.
In addition to the children dealt with by the juvenile court, 122
children were entered on the records of the police departments who
had not been referred to the court. Most of the offenses of this
group were trivial, and the. children had been merely reprimanded
and sent home.
A family of five children was reported to the juvenile court as neglected.
The mother, a widow, was compelled to work outside the home, and the chil­
dren were left to their own devices all day. The oldest girl, 16 years of age,
was on the streets at night and associating with questionable companions; and
a 15-year-old boy was not attending school regularly. A 9-year-old boy and
two girls, 3 and 2 years of age, were very much neglected.
The two little girls were sent by the court to the receiving home of a
society for family placement. The oldest daughter married before the case
came into court, and the court lost jurisdiction over her. The two sons were
left with their mother. The oldest boy continued to play truant, and the
attendance officer brought him into court on a truancy charge. Upon his
promise to attend school regularly the case was dismissed. Since then he had
not missed a day in school.
A 9-year-old girl was reported to the juvenile court for nonattendance at
school. Repeated efforts to persuade the mother and the stepfather to send
her regularly had failed. At the time of the complaint the stepfather had
just completed a six months’ jail sentence for selling liquor, and the mother
was working in the mill. The child had been doing all the housework for the
family. As she was very much under weight, the attendance officer enlisted
the sympathy of a group of women, who arranged for her to have a pint of
milk a day. The parents were not prosecuted because they promised to have
the girl attend school regularly and to lighten her work at home. She improved
remarkably, and there were no further complaints.

A 13-year-old boy was found to be keeping house for his father and an 11year-old sister. The father had married a 17-year-old girl shortly after the
mother’s death, but this girl had promptly deserted when she found that
she was expected to keep house and care for two children on her husband's
wages of $9 a week. The boy kept house in just about the way an average
boy of that age would. The home was a three-room unpainted shack with
very little furniture besides two beds. There were no sheets on the beds, and
the mattresses and comforts were almost black with dirt. Soon the boy began
playing truant and then began stealing with a gang of boys. He was placed
on probation to the juvenile court and was sent back to school. The home
conditions did not improve. The father said, “ I love my children and want
to do the best thing for them, but what can a man do on $9 a week?”
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



The juvenile-court judge of one county stated that since the State
did not provide sufficient facilities for dealing with delinquents he
was slow to commit children to the training schools, preferring
probation. Persons on probation, however, were not given adequate
supervision. The following cases were among those reported from
this county:
A 15-year-old orphan girl lived with an aunt and another woman who con­
ducted a house of ill fame and made use of the girl in their business. The
two women were tried in the superior court and sentenced to the State prison
farm. The girl was turned over to the juvenile court and committed to the
training school, hut could not be admitted because of lack of room. She was
then sent to a maternity home, though she was not pregnant. A short time
later she was released to a woman from a neighboring State who wanted a girl
to help her in her home. Her conduct in this home was satisfactory.
A 15-year-old girl was arrested and placed in jail for immorality and for
stealing. Her father and mother were designated as “ low.” The father had
been accused of immorality with his daughter, and an older brother had been
sent to the chain gang for selling whisky. The girl became immoral through
the influence of older women of bad character. The judge of the superior
court handled the case and committed the girl to the training school, but she
was not admitted because there was no room for her.

The mother of three daughters and four sons had been a widow for eight
years. She owned a small farm. The four boys were very “ bad ” ; the mother
either could not control them or did not care to; and the family was shunned
by the better people of the community. Finally one of the boys shot a man
and was sentenced to the chain gang.
Soon afterwards the mother reported to the president of an aid society that
her 17-year-old daughter was about to give birth to a child. She said that the
girl had been shunned on account of her evil brothers and had felt that she
might just as well do wrong as to have the name of being wrong. When the
child was born no charge was made against the father. It was believed that
more than one man had been involved in the case and that the girl had
accepted money for her wrongdoing. The girl remained in her mother’s home
caring for the baby.
A widower, who was a day laborer on a farm, lived with his 15-year-old son,
13-year-old daughter, and three younger children in a plank house of two
rooms. The 13-year-old girl kept house; but as she had had no training, the
younger children were always very dirty and unkempt. All the children were
out of school and were receiving no care nor training.

In one of the counties the records of welfare agencies and the tes­
timony of social workers indicated that sexual immorality was preva­
lent and that very young girls became prostitutes. Truancy and
stealing were said to be common among the boys of the community.
The lack of recreational facilities for girls, the crowded home con­
ditions, low wages, and employment of both parents were considered
contributory causes for the existing situation. Another important
contributing factor was a camp, where large numbers of soldiers
were stationed.
In another county in which immorality was reported to be a prob­
lem housing conditions were poor among tenant-farmer families,
wholesome recreational facilities were not provided, and school ab­
sence for farm work was said to be frequent. The social worker of
the cotton-mill section commented on the early placement of the chil
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



dren at work in the mill and the many child marriages. The fol­
lowing cases were among those reported from these two counties and
from a third in which immorality^ truancy, loafing, and stealing
were reported to be the most common forms of delinquency:
A 15-year-old girl had been for some time beyond the control of her widowed
mother. The society which had been trying to rehabilitate the family con­
sidered the mother mentally deranged. The girl was arrested for streetwalk­
ing and sentenced to 20 days in the stockade; then she was found to be preg­
nant and the society placed her in ah institution in a neighboring city. Here
she gave considerable trouble, and finally her mother took her home, where the
babv was born. The mother kept house for several men and was believed to be
leading an immoral life. The society made no effort to locate the father of the
girl’s child, because of her previous reputation and the fact that she admitted
having been a prostitute.
The father of two children, the younger one but 5 years of age, divorced
his wife on the ground of immorality and took the two daughters to Florida,
where he obtained work as guard in a convict camp and remarried.
Five years later the older girl, 17 years old, returned to Georgia to stay with
her mother, who had also remarried and was keeping a house of prostitution
patronized by negroes. The girl was soon drawn into this life. Later she went
to Florida on a visit and brought her sister, then 12 years of age, back with her.
Shortly afterwards a raid was made on the house, the mother and both daugh­
ters being arrested. The younger girl was turned over to the juvenile court, and
the mother and the older girl were held for the city court. The mother was
discharged and the daughter fined $1. She promptly paid it and tried to make
an engagement with one of the detectives before She left the courtroom. In
the meantime, the father, who had separated from his second wife, heard of the
difficulties and came to seek possession of the younger daughter. He went to
the home of his former wife and her husband and stayed a couple of weeks with
them. Various officials in the county in which the father was living had written
favorably as to his character, and the child was finally allowed to go with him
upon his promise that she would be placed with her grandmother.
The case of a 15-year-old girl came to the attention of the juvenile court
when the mother had the father put in jail for nonsupport. The father was
said to be glib-tongued and irresponsible, and with “ roving feet, and the trail»
colorless mother had borne the brunt of the family support. The family had
lost their furniture and could not pay rent, and a relief society had housed them
in an old abandoned building used for such emergencies. An older daughter
was in a house of prostitution, a son had joined the Navy, and there was a
2-vear-old infant. This girl was reported to the probation office by the police
as one of a number of girls who were hanging about a notorious motion-picture
house which the proprietor was known to use as a place of assignation, ih e
probation officer tried for three days to find the girl, but her mother did not
know where she was. When she finally came home, she said she had gone
automobiling with two boys and another girl, and as it w a s late when they
returned she was afraid to go home. She had spent the first uight with one o
the boys, sleeping in a room with three men, the second night she had spent
with a prostitute, and the third at the motion-picture house. She was com­
mitted to the State training school for girls.
Tramp life is considered usually a male prerogative, but a case was reported
of a mother and four daughters who lived on the road. The whole family
was said to be addicted to the taking of drugs, and the daughters, whose ages
ranged from 12 to 19 years, were known to be prostitutes. The eldest daughter
had married but was separated from her husband, whom she was said to
have met one day and married the next ; the second daughter had also married
but was not living with her husband, having learned that he had another
wife living. At times the family was together, at times apart. They drifted
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



about, the girls growing up in the roughest environment, without knowing
any sort of home. They were almost entirely illiterate, were constantly being
arrested for drunkenness, loitering, aud other offenses, and were no stranger^
to the jail and the stockade. The youngest three were arrested for staying
at a negro house but managed to get away from the court authorities and
went into Alabama.
A girl whose mother had died was keeping house for her father, a 16-yearold sister, and two younger brothers, doing the very best that a young girl
could for her brothers and sister. It was reported that the father was very
immoral and spent much of his earnings on women ¡' consequently the children
were living in a bad environment and had poor support. In spite of this the
older girl kept herself above reproach and married a good, honest man. Thé
burden of the family housekeeping then fell upon the younger girl, who was
not so strong a character as the older sister. Soon after this the father
married a woman known to be immoral and took the two boys to his new home
but left his daughter with a woman who was willing to give her a home.
In 1922 a missionary society became interested in the girl and thought
she should be removed from the influence of the father and the stepmother.
Obtaining a scholarship for her, the society sent her to a girls’ school. She
remained through one year and the summer vacation, being allowed to work
for her board during the summer. Late one night as the president of the
school was driving into town by a short cut not frequently used he came upon
this girl who with another pupil had met some boys in the lane. Although
the president did not know how long these clandestine meetings had been
occurring, he determined that he would keep this girl in school no longer. He
had had trouble with her from the first as she seemed to go out of her way
to attract the attention of boys. Without communicating with the society
responsible for her presence in the school, he asked her where she wanted to
go, and she replied she wanted to go to her father’s home. She returned there
and seemed contented to live under its bad influence.
A 10-year-old girl, the oldest of three or four children, had almost from in­
fancy shown a tendency to steal. Some people suspected that the mother di­
rected the depredations of the child, as she exhibited a great deal of cunning. It
was said that when she passed a house in the evening and saw the entire family
oh the front porch she would go to the back of the house and noiselessly and
quickly take many small articles that could be carried away without detection.
Then she would pass the house later and speak to the family on the porch.
The mother was a poor housekeeper, ignorant and shiftless, and the children
were always poorly clothed and dirty. The father worked at odd jobs; at
the time the girl was brought before the court he was driving a truck. It
was said that the father sometimes chained the girl to the bed post while
he was away from the house, because the mother had so little control over
her. Because of the numerous complaints about the girl the father got work
at a sawmill and moved the family to the mill village in order to remove
the child from the town; but the work at the sawmill ceased and he had to
return to town to make a living for his family. The girl kept up her stealing
so constantly that the town people requested that she be sent away. She
was brought into the city court and committed to the training school.
A 15-year-old girl, the youngest of 10 children, lived near the county seat
with her father, who was about 80 years of age. Her mother was dead and
the older children had left home. As her father could not make a home for
her she went to live with an uncle, who permitted her to become cook for a
man of very bad reputation, with the consequence that she became imnloral.
She soon became dissatisfied with her life in the country and went to the
town to live. Upon her arrival she went into a grocery store and asked permission
to use the telephone; the proprietor noticed the number she called and listened
to her side of the conversation. When she turned from the telephone the
man asked her if she knew she had been calling a house in the “ red-light
district,” she replied that she did know and intended to go there. The grocer
called the juvenile-court judge, who went immediately and took charge of the
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



girl, placing her in jail temporarily. Later he sent her to a girls’ school in
another city. She was kept there one month and then was returned to her father
oh probation. Three days after her return she ran away and went directly to
the segregated district. She was permitted to remain there, as an earlier
effort to have her admitted to the training school had not been 1successful.
The authorities felt that they could not arrange for proper disposition of the
girl and made no further effort to protect her.
The jail-visiting committee found a 14-year-old girl in a cell which opened
on a corridor where there were male prisoners. Upon inquiry, it was learned
that the girl’s mother and stepfather, who had no control over her, had sent
her to live with a grandmother, who also had failed to control her. An uncle
had sent the girl to the jail expecting to have her adjudged insane and sent
to the State hospital for the insane. The committee took an interest in the
girl and found that she was bright and. had reached the fifth or sixth grade
in school. The trouble seemed to be that she was not normal sexually, as she
would run away in the night or at other times seeking the company of men.
Believing her to be in danger in the jail, the committee tried to make some
plan for her other than sending her to the hospital for the insane. Her rela­
tives said they could not take the girl into their homes but would be glad to
have her sent to some institution where she would be safe and where she
would be trained. A boarding place was found for her, and she, was removed
from jail after she had been there more than a month. The girl stated that
she had had immoral relations once at the jail but refused to tell the name of
the man. She was finally admitted to the State training school.

In a county that was largely urban the largest city had good
churches, good schools, and a playground with a paid director. The
county health officer was active, and the city nurse, with the help ot
the city physician and the negro woman’s club, had maintained a
clinic for two years and had accomplished a great deal among the
negro population in the treatment of venereal disease and the in­
struction of mothers in the care of their children. Some follow-up
work was done,-and entertainments were sometimes given for the
negro children. The nurse stated that she had to go after the chil­
dren and bring them to the clinic and the entertainments, as they
seemed reluctant to take advantage of the opportunity given them.
In the mill village recreational facilities were few. Sunday school
was held in the community hall and an occasional entertainment was
given. The clinic of a local professional club was trying to accom­
plish something in the way of health education. The adult proba­
tion officer was progressive and felt the need of a well-organized
juvenile court and a good system of probation. In general, however,
city and county officials considered that it would reflect upon their
community if they admitted that they had any juvenile delinquency
or dependency. Stealing, truancy, and immorality were nevertheless
reported among both boys and girls.
A 16-year-old girl had not been in school for several years and was said
to be on the streets constantly, riding around in automobiles with any man
or boy who would ask her. Her mother had deserted her husband (many
years her senior), the daughter, and two sons under 3 years of age, and had
lived six years with a man not her husband. Upon his death she returned to
her former home. In the meantime the father had obtained a divorce and
had married a young, ignorant, incompetent woman, who did not know how
to care for the children. Because of her incompetency and the father s ad­
vanced age which prevented him from earning much through his trade as a
carpenter, the family depended upon charity for support. After the mdther s
return she was so openly leading an immoral life that the authorities of the
community wished to be rid of the responsibility, and ordered her to leave
town. When the woman left she took the daughter with her.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



A 10-year-old girl had lived with her father and two younger children since
her mother’s^ death. The father was recognized as a disreputable character,
and it was generally known that he was leading an immoral life, caring
very poorly for his children. When the secretary of the Associated Charities
asked the father to let her help him make suitable provision for the children
he replied that he could care for his children without help. Later he mar­
ried a woman known to be immoral. Some women in a neighboring town,
who knew of the danger to which the girl was exposed, obtained a scholar­
ship for her in a denominational girls’ school, and she was induced to take
advantage of this opportunity. She returned to her home for the Christmas
holidays and did not reenter school the first, of the year. This fact was re­
ported to the secretary of the Associated Charities, who thereupon called to
make inquiries. The stepmother said that the girl was not going back to
A 12-year-old negro girl came to A from M and, with a 13-year-old negro
girl who had come from Florida, rented a room* in the back yard of property
owned by an old negro man. The girls were seen on the street so much that
they attracted the attention of the negro city nurse, who, when told that
they had no “ people,” insisted that the girls go to work. Each time they
were spoken to the girls claimed to be on their way to take a job, or to have
just been dismissed from one, or to have been “ just a huntin’,” and they went
on living a street life.
A young boy who came to the negro clinic was found to have venereal dis­
ease and claimed to have received the infection from this girl. She was
brought before the police court and placed in jail. The mayor stated that
he would commit the girl to a reform school were there one for negro girls
in the State, but as it was he would release her provided some negro woman
would give her a home. As she was diseased no home could be found for
her. Finally a relative of the girl’s offered her a home, where it was reported
that she was doing well. She was given treatment through a clinic.

Two girls, 14 and 16 years of age, respectively, lived in a mill village with
their father and stepmother. Both girls worked in the cotton mill but never
saw the contents of their pay envelopes, as their father took them each week.
One of them arose every morning at 4 o’clock in order to get breakfast for the
family and to be at the mill at 6 o’clock. The girls were allowed no privileges,
had no recreations or amusements of any kind, and did not even have clothing
suitable to wear away from the home or the mill. Finally one of them re­
belled and stayed out all night in a taxi. The next morning she was brought
to the Salvation Army home. After listening to the girl’s story the workers
at the home told her they would find work for her and permit her to board
in the home, but they would expect her to come home promptly every after­
noon and not go out with boys without their permission. Work was obtained
for her in a factory. Soon she began staying away until 8 :30 in the evening.
Once she remained out an entire night with a girl of bad reputation. She was
taken to her father, who refused to do anything for her; then she was sent
to a neighboring town and work was obtained for her but it was reported
that she was not doing well. ■ Her sister also rebelled, but in a different
way. She asked for the privilege of living at the Salvation Army home, giv­
ing her services in return for her board. She was leading a very quiet,
wholesome life.
A 16-year-old girl had been living in a poor home with her married sister.
She was not sent to school but was expected to work to earn her living.
Finally she ran away. Later a message was sent to the secretary of the Asso­
ciated Charities stating that the girl was in jail in another State. She had
been charged with disorderly conduct, having remained out an entire night
with a man in his automobile. The secretary consulted the girl’s sister, who
refused to send for the girl.

In one of the counties the most prevalent forms of delinquency
for which children were brought before the courts were immorality
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



on the part of the girls and stealing and a reckless disregard of law
and restraint on the part of the boys. The f)oys were truants from
school, and most of their activities }iad been gang mqvenients, 0ne
gang of boys, who were habitual truants, yrqs brought before the
court for breaking windows. One of the boys was sent to the State
training school for theft. The morning after this boy was sent away
it was reported that all the members of the gang were in school
“ with their faces scrubbed until they shone.”
Through a trained probation officer the juvenile court was a t­
tempting to prevent crime and protect childhood, and to rescue girls
who were living in immoral surroundings. For some time a number
of boys had been stealing from the railroad company, taking
especially all the brass fixtures that could be obtained and selling
them for a pittance to a junk dealer. The dealer was told not to
receive the goods but disregarded this order. His license was
thereupon revoked, and he was ordered to leave town. No further
complaints of this nature were received from the railroad company.
As this county is near the State line the delinquency problem is
intensified. Deserting husbands or men apprehended for violating
the law escape easily into Florida and are lost track of. I t was said
that the boys were led to think that they, too, could escape the con­
sequences of violating the law. Many young couples, the girls often
mere children, were reported as frequently seen driving through the
town, to register later at hotels as man and wife, or to obtain a mar­
riage license and go to the justice to have a ceremony of marriage
No organized community recreation existed either in the city or
in the rural districts of this county. An. effort was made to estab­
lish a community playground with a paid director, but sufficient
funds could not be obtained. The probation officer was opposed to
this effort, as she did not see the use of making an expenditure for
a playground when most of the children had large yards. She
claimed that there was very little delinquency among the rural chil­
dren and that they could always find their own outdoor amusements
and recreation. Yet some of the cases reported in the course of the
study indicated that conditions contributing to juvenile delinquency
did exist in rural districts.
The mother of four children from 3 to 9 years of agio had quarreled con­
stantly with her husband, who did not support his family and finally left
them. He went to another city, where, according to rumor, he was living
with another woman. The mother appealed to the probation officer for aid;
the father was ordered to return home and provide for his family. The offi­
cer thought an agreement might be reached, but the husband and wife quar­
reled even worse than before. One evening the man called his children to
the porch and shot himself in their presence,: dying instantly. Thereafter
the mother had moved from place to place ip the city, receiving help from
the county and from individuals. Relatives in the country offered to let her
and the children have a home with them but would not furnish her with
money to live in the city. The mother would not go to her father’s home
because her mother did not like the children,; and she would not go to her
brother’s home, claiming that the children would be treated as servants.
Meanwhile the woman was getting a- living in any way she could for the
children, who were growing up without any restraint or training, while the
mother’s own life was a bad example to them.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



A widow was left with three sons 9, 12, and 14 years of age, respectively.
Soon she married an 18-year-old youth. Neither he nor the mother had any
control over the three children. As soon as the money from the first hus­
band’s insurance policy of $2 ,000' was exhausted the second husband disap­
peared and was not heard from again. The woman’s brothers helped her,
and she was able to get along fairly well financially. The oldest boy had
a propensity for stealing and was sent to the State training school. The sec­
ond boy seemed to be steady, went to school regularly, and did odd jobs out­
side of school hours. On his fourteenth birthday, during the school term, he
bade his classmates and the teacher good-by, said that as he was 14 the
schoolroom would never see him again, and took his books home. He did
not return to school the next day but obtained work in the telegraph office and
regularly gave a large portion of his earnings to his mother.; The youngest
boy was constantly troublesome, an habitual truant from school, and given to
pilfering. The police arrested him with four other boys for breaking win­
dows in a barn. All the-boys were placed on probation, to report to the
judge of the juvenile court each Friday morning, and to attend school ,and
Sunday school. Although his companions faithfully kept the terms of proba­
tion this young boy did not, and in three months was locked up by the police
charged with theft. At that time an uncle offered to take the boy on his
farm, the understanding being that if he failed there he was to go to the
training school without further delay. In a few months the boy returned
to his mother’s home saying that his uncle had permitted him to come home
for the Christmas holidays. Three days after his arrival he was again locked
up by the police, charged with theft. The probation officer let him out of
jail on Christmas eve, and the mother said that the boy’s uncle would return
for him in a few days. Some time after Christmas the probation officer saw
the boy on the outskirts of town and learned, upon inquiry, that the uncle
had moved to Florida and did not intend to be bothered with the boy, whom
he could not control. The mother did not have him in school and was trying
to hide him from the probation dfficer. The probation officer had the boy
sent to the State training school.

From a county in which truancy, gang activities, and youthful
vagrancy were reported to be problems by teachers and social work­
ers the following case was reported:
A 14-year-old boy’s father was dead and his mother and two sisters were
tubercular. The family eked out an existence on what the older children in
the family could earn and what the Associated Charities could give. They
lived in a section of town notorious as a breeding spot for all kinds of crime.
The boy was a member of a gang whose qualification for membership was
that a boy must have stolen some article for the gang’s treasure cave down
by the river. When the police broke up these activities this boy and a fellow
member ran away. They reported a very enjoyable time on the road as they
were given lifts most of the way, as well as food and money. The boy and
his friend were finally located and brought back home, but because this boy
was 14 years old he could not be compelled to go to school.
The leader of this boy’s gang had had little schooling, owing to the habit
of truancy. He was intensely interested in athletics, and the only way the
school principal persuaded him to attend at all was by appealing to his desire
to be on the school teams. After he reached the age of 14 the school lost
track of him.

In one county comparatively little delinquency or truancy existed
among the white children,*and there was no record of a girl’s ever
having been brought into court. The judge of the superior court,
however, stated that all the efforts of social workers were toward
helping the boys but that something should be done also for the
girls. A great deal of stealing and carrying of pistols and fighting
among the negro boys and immorality among negroes were reported
Three negro boys, 14, 12, and 11 years of age, respectively, held up another
negro boy who was driving home from town and ransacked his pockets. The
boys were arrested and brought before the justice, who ordered them held in
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



jail for trial by the superior court, the charge being highway robbery. After
remaining in jail three days they were tried and found guilty. The judge
committed the oldest boy, who had planned the robbery and who had given
much previous trouble, to the training school. The two other boys, who were
under 13 years of age, were placed on probation for 12 months, and paroled
to their parents with the understanding that they must bq at work or in
school steadily, refrain from associating with bad boys, especially at the golf
links, and be strictly obedient to their parents at all times. The sheriff was
appointed probation officer in this case. The 11-year-old boy did not break his
probation; the mother of the 12 -year-old boy reported1 that he was not at
work but was constantly on the streets and beyond her control. Consequently
he was committed to the training school.

The population of a mountain county was scattered, and problems
which arose in the mountain districts seldom reached the court at
the county seat. I t was said that a great deal of illicit traffic in
liquor was carried on, and that many of the farmers *engaged in
bootlegging. Considerable delinquency was reported by various
people to exist in the county seat. In one alley a gang of young
boys, both white and negro, was always to be found. . The alley was
near a large building in which several professional men had their
offices, and the boys waited for chances to go to the country club
to caddy for these men. They were truants from school, a public
nuisance, and were fast becoming delinquent.
Aside from one or two outstanding cases not a great deal of de­
linquency existed in the mill villages of the county. The teachers
were in close touch with the school children through a very good
system of home visiting. The wholesome recreation furnished for
the community aided in preventing delinquency, and it was generally
known that unless the mill workers and their families conducted
themselves properly the mill authorities would ask them to leave the
A 17-year-old boy had been stealing ever since he was 7 years old. He lived
in a mill village, and his people were mill workers; His school attendance
had always been irregular, and he had left school to work in the mill as soon
as he was 14 years old. He had always been a leader and in many of his
adventures had had a gang working with him. On one occasion the gang
broke into the supply house of a construction company and stole enough
dynamite and powder to blow up the entire neighborhood. They stored this
under the house of one of the boys and were using it to burn trails in the
open through the vacant fields.
The boy had robbed the company store three times and had stolen about
$60 from one of the school-teachers. At one time he broke into the closet
in the school office and took money from the children’s deposit bank. He
escaped after this last offense and had not been seen in the community since.
Although he had been detained in the county jail and had been before the
court, he was never sentenced to an institution, and no constructive work
was ever done for him.

Juvenile delinquency was not so serious a problem in another
county as were dependency and neglect, and the majority of cases
coming before the courts were those in which some sort of family
service was needed, as medical aid, temporary relief, or the adjust­
ment of domestic relations. ;
Twenty-two cases of delinquency were handled in 1923. The
county seat was a railway center; one of the two policemen met
almost all trains coming into the town, and considerable effort was
made to deal with the “ hobo problem.” The penalty fo r[stealing
rides on the trains was a fine of 20 or 30 days on the chain gang.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



The probation officer handled all eases of boys under 16 caught
riding trains and whenever possible returned them to their families.
Inadequate supervision and lack of follow-up work were among
the difficulties encountered in rural court work. One or two of the
families lived as far as 20 miles from the county seat, and contact
with them was necessarily superficial. In winter when roads were
bad it was often impossible to visit at all. The probation officer
realized the need for private homes for placement and endeavored
to find such homes. She was licensed to place white children in
temporary homes and negro children in either temporary or perma­
nent homes. As no reliable foster homes were available, many de­
pendent children had been sent to the training school even when
they were not delinquent, but an effort was being made to change this
A boy who had already been known to the juvenile court for a year and
who had been brought into court on charges of stealing a bicycle, entering a
house and stealing a gun, taking a knife from a boy’s pocket, setting fire to
a house, and burning school toilets was committed in the summer of 1921
to the State training school for boys. He remained only two or three months
and was then released, although the school: knew he was by no means ready
for discharge. Lack of. funds had compelled the school to let half the boys
go, and this boy was paroled to his mother, who had been trying to obtain
his release.
The father and mother had quarreled for many years, and the children’s
environment was exceedingly bad. They were wholly undisciplined. Although
finally a divorce was granted, the parents continued to live near each other,
and there was continual spying, tale-bearing, and trouble. The father reported
to the training school that the mother could not control her son. The school
authorities told thè man to get his son and return him to the training school.
On this excuse the father took the boy to live with him but frequently did
not even know where he was. In July, 1922, an effort was made to have the
boy returned to the training school, but the court was informed that there
would be no opening until October and that either the parents or the court
would have to bear the expense of his return. In November the mother filed
a petition in court charging her son with stealing a dog, enticing his 12 -yearold brother away from home, and with “ growing up under such conditions
as will prove his moral ruin.” The boy was then paroled to a farmer and
did well as long as the work lasted. After this he was encouraged to join
the Navy and succeeded in doing so, although he was only 16 years of age.
An undernourished, ragged, and dirty 12-year-old girl was reported to the
probation officer in February, but no action was taken because of insufficient
information. In April the girl was again reported by a neighbor, who said
that the family with- whom the girl lived often sent her begging for food
among the neighbors and compelled her to go long distances alone, after dark.
The-previous night the child had appeared at the neighbors home crying
bitterly and saying that she was afraid to go home alone but that if she did
not go back with the matches which she had come to ask for she would be
whipped severely.
An investigation disclosed that the family lived m a house in a very remote
section, almost hidden by the thick growth of the surrounding swamp. Ex­
treme poverty was evident. Two chairs, a greasy table, a broken stove,
and a very inadequate supply of bedding made up the entire amount of furni­
ture. The girl was like a timid animal, and it was learned with difficulty that
her father had been dead for about two years and that her mother had left
her. Her school attendance had consisted of only three days. The foster
mother was pregnant and had been too sick to work, and for the last few
months this girl had done most of the housework. The father of the family
said that the girl had been placed in their care about two years before by her
mother, whose present whereabouts was unknown. He was willing, to release
the girl, arid she'was immediately brought into town and placed in the deten­
tion home. Here she was given hookworm treatment and a few days later
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was placed in a private home in the town. In less than six months she had
been placed in three family homes. She had been in the third home aboût six
months but needed more training than the foster mother gave her, and her re­
moval had been requested. The girl was not always truthful, had lost interest
in school, and had run away once from the detention hpme. The State board
of public welfare had been asked to arrange for a mental examination, and at
the time of the survey the child wàs awaiting some other disposition.
A woman was trying to support five children, whose ages ranged from 15 to
3 years, upon the $20 a month which she earned by laundry work. A 26-yearold son was working and had a good reputation,' a 20 -year-old daughter was
in the State training school for girls, and one of the 15-year-old twins was
in the training school for boys. The father, who used narcotics, had deserted
the family just before the birth of the youngest child. A short time later he
was sent to the State farm and while there was cured. After his release he
returned to live three doors from his family but gave nothing for their sup­
port, although he earned $2.50 a day. Church and neighborhood charity had
been helping the family with gifts of shoes, ciothing, and food, at intervals
for about 20 years. Both mother and children used obscene language and
were continually wrangling and quarreling with other children in the neigh­
borhood. Besides having an uncontrollable temper the mother had a ques­
tionable reputation; In March, 1923, one of the neighbors entered a. petition
in court, alleging that three of the younger children had vicious tendencies
and were under insufficient guardianship and parental control. The mother
was summoned to court but failed to appear until subpoenaed. The children
were put on probation to report every week until discharged. The first week
when the children reported they had very dirty faces, but they were neatly
clad and their school reports were good. The next week they were clean
and neatly dressed and brought a bunch of flowers for the probation officer.
They continued to report until they were discharged because of good behavior.
The mother of a 12-year-old girl reported to the probation officer that her
daughter had been having immoral relations with an 18-year-old boy. An
older brother of the boy was also implicated. The girl at first denied the
charge but upon the sympathetic treatment of her parents had confessed. The
parents had been very careful with her, and she had never to their knowledge
been left alone with the boy. He had threatened to kill her if she told anyone,
but the report had come to the parents through the boy’s bragging in the
neighborhood. The judge and the probation officer were impressed with the
girl’s childishness and innocence and placed her on probation to her parents.
The boy was committed to jail on a charge of rape, and his brother was held
for grand-jury investigation on a charge of assault and battery. No bill was
returned against the two boys, but as their own father sat on the grand jury
when the case was heard, the juvenile court proposed to bring the case before
the next superior-court hearing.
A 17-year-old boy was arrested on a charge of robbing the mail, kept in the
county jail 9 days, and then released on bond. The case was pending in the
district court at the time of the Survey. This .boy’s delinquency dated from the
time he was 7 years old, when he and his brother, one year younger, were àrrested for burglary. Both boys were released because the charge was not
substantiated (another boy arrested at the same time was found guilty).
Seven years later this boy was arrested again on the charge of burglary, was
referred to the juvenile court, and remained under supervision until 16 years
of age.
The younger brother had been charged with burglary at the age of 13 and
had been arrested twice for fighting on the streets. An effort was made to have
him sent to an orphanage ; his father was willing to pay $100 per year toward
his expenses. Instead of this he was placed with an uncle in another city,
where he remained only a Short time. Later he returned to his home town
and was again brought before the courts.
An older brother of these two boys had once been sent to the reform school
for nine months for burglary.
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Aside from the work done by agencies dealing with needy families
and children and the social work in thé few courts having adequate |
facilities for helping children, the most promising development—
perhaps striking nearer the source of trouble than do most other
agencies—was visiting-teacher work in connection with the schools.
This has recently been begun in Georgia. The city of Columbus had
a visiting teacher who was sent there by the National Committee on
Visiting Teachers in January, 1923, part of her expenses for a period
of three years being paid by the national organization. During the
first year of her work the visiting teacher concentrated her efforts on
one school which seemed to be representative. Later so much work
was found to be needed, especially with subnormal children, that she
extended her work to three schools and organized the work of two
special classes, which was to be carried on under her supervision.3
One of the major difficulties in a number of the counties studied
was the failure to enforce school attendance, even to the extent
required under a very inadequate law. In several counties there
was even a lack of school facilities that would make it possible forall the children to attend school ; this was particularly true in
regard to negro schools in a number of communities. Obviously
one of the fundamental needs in a child-welfare program is the
provision of adequate educational opportunities for every child of
every economic class, negro as well as white, and in rural as well as in
urban communities. The Children’s Bureau agent’s report on the
school situation in one county was as follows:
The 10 schools for white children (outside the county seat) are all con­
solidated schools. The buildings are modern and well equipped ; courses in
domestic science and agriculture are given; good libraries are provided; the
playground equipment is good, and the largest two schools have athletic
teams that compete with schools in other counties. The school term is nine
months. Trucks go 6 miles from the schools to bring the children in. These
schools serve the community as well as the pupils, being the centers for the
meetings of the women’s club, - the parent-teachers’ association, the girls’
clubs, and the boys’ clubs. The county health officer with the assistance of
a nurse examines all the school children. The county home demonstration
agent and the farm agent have organized clubs for the school children and
direct their work. The pupils from the rural schools made a very creditable
showing at the county fair. The school officials evidently attribute the regu­
larity in attendance to the excellent condition of the schools. The county
superintendent states that the attendance is almost perfect, and he has never
found it necessary since he has been in office to prosecute a white patron for
failure to comply with the school attendance law.
There are 38 negro schools, 25 of them with but one teacher. The oneteacher schools are poor, and some of the districts have no school building
but make use of a church or lodge building. The total enrollment of negroes
is about 3,500; attendance averages about 2,500. Not much effort has been
made to enforce the compulsory school attendance law with the negroes. In
most of the one-teacher schools the term is six months; in some of the schools
it is seven months; and in five new schools which were erected through the
Rosenwald Fund it is nine months.
3 For description of th is type of work carried on by v isitin g teachers see the publications
o f the National Committee on V isiting Teachers, 8 West F ortieth Street, New York, N. Y.,
including ‘'T h e visitin g teacher,” by Jane F. Culbèrt, reprint from the Annals of "thè
American Academy of P olitical and Social Science, November, 1921. See also The V isit­
ing Teacher Movement, w ith especial reference to adm inistrative relationships, by Julius
John Oppenheimer (The Join t Committee on Methods of Preventing Delinquency, 1925).

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Although thè situation with regard to the education of negroes
in this county was not nearly so favorable as for the white children,
it was by no means so discouraging as in many other counties.
There was a beginning of modern school equipment through the
special fund for negro education. Two teachers gave vocational
agricultural training to negroes in five schools. A negro farm
agent and a home demonstration agent wère employed by the
county. However, in the counties studied not. only the negroes suf­
fered from inadequate school facilities; in some communities the
school facilities for white children were totally inadequate.
Wholesome recreation is becoming increasingly recognized as a
preventive of juvenile delinquency. I t is not enough that commer­
cial amusement places shall be licensed and properly supervised.
The community itself must take action to provide for both children
and adults the facilities for the normal exercise of the social in­
stinct and endeavor to stimulate the desire for entertainment and
healthful recreation. The following reports of conditions in three
of the counties were made by the agents:
County A is well provided with natural resources for recreation. The
only commercialized recreation is the motion-picture show. The schools of
the county serve the youth well. Most of the schools have canning, poultry,
flower, and vegetable clubs ; the larger schools have their athletic teams. They
have basket-ball tournaments and athletic meets, exhibitions of the club work,
and literary-society contests.
In the country districts in B County the consolidated schools furnish
wholesome recreation for the children ; frequently picture shows and enter­
tainments are given. The county seat has a community house and a public
playground, with a good swimming pool and playground equipment. The
woman who is employed to care for the community house has charge of the
playground during the summer months. No community effort is made for
recreation for the negro. One of the larger cities has a “ better-film ” com­
mittee, and special pictures for children are shown on Saturday mornings. In
this city the negroes have built and own a motion-picture theater which is
considered the finest of its kind in the South.
In C County, one of the larger counties, where conditions are considerably
better than the average, little is done toward any organized recreation out­
side the two largest cities. The county home demonstration agent has 11
girls’ clubs throughout the county, with an enrollment of 175 girls. These
are, of course, more educational than recreational, but they furnish an outlet
for the girls and keep them interested and busy.
In the mill town the company has built a large auditorium, with a theater,
pool tables, bowling alleys, and a swimming pool. Motion pictures are shown
every night, and these as well as the other activities are open to both young
and old. The probation officer stated that she had not had a case of
delinquency here since the auditorium was opened.
Recreation is provided for in the county seat by two public playgrounds
(besides those at the schools), a community center, a municipal swimming
pool, and the Y. M. C. A. gymnasium classes. There are two motion-picture
theaters, and a municipal auditorium used for theater purposes. The com­
munity center, under the auspices of a church, serves not only the mill workers
but children from the well-to-do families. The activities are largely athletic,
a young man giving full time to the supervision of this work ; there are also
a good library and some cooking and sewing classes. The American Legion is
sponsoring an organized recreational program in the city. The county has
no public dance halls or pool rooms.

After nine years’ work the women’s club in D County obtained
an $8,000 appropriation from the city for the purpose of establish­
ing playgrounds. The recreational program was based upon a
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plan outlined by an expert in recreation who made a survey of
the situation, and a commission was appointed to take charge of
the work. It is planned to have four playgrounds in operation
within a short time, three for the white children and one for the
negroes. All the playgrounds will be supervised, and the whole
system will be in charge of a director. Where the playground is
not near a public school it is planned to build a recreation center,
so that a year-round program may be carried on. At the time of
the survey most of the schools had playgrounds but little equip­
ment. Children were on the playgrounds as early as 7 o’clock in
the morning, as their parents had gone to work by that time.
For many of the counties visited the situation might be summed
up as for E County in regard to the relation between recreation and
delinquency :
• The need for recreational facilities is almost as urgent as the need for a
probation and attendance officer. Although the city has several beautiful
parks and squares there is no playground equipment, except a few swings
and seesaws in one or two of the school yards. The chief of police said that
better recreation facilities would do much to reduce juvenile delinquency,
as there is no place for children to spend their leisure except on the streets: ’
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The following suggestions concerning legislative needs for child
protection in Georgia, as indicated by the findings of the Children’s
Bureau survey, are based on the criteria set forth in the Minimum
Standards for Child Welfare.1 In the discussion reference will be
made to applicable sections of these standards.2

The juvenile court law in Georgia, if carried out, might have made
it possible for the State to attain the standard which would require
that every locality have available a court organization providing for
separate hearings of children’s cases, with special methods of deten­
tion, adequate investigation of cases, supervision or probation by
trained officers (such officers in girls’ cases to be women), and a
system of recording and filing social as well as legal information.
The survey showed, however, a very serious failure in the application
of the law. In only a few of the BO counties studied was there
special equipment for dealing with children’s cases in accordance
with juvenile-court procedure. Juvenile courts had been designated
and were functioning in only 16 counties; some probation service
was available in 22 counties, although in most of them .it was very
In 1923 almost 1,300 children were brought before the courts in the
30 counties studied, and there was evidence of considerable juvenile
delinquency and neglect of children to which no attention was paid.
The possibilities that lie in the prevention of delinquency, depend­
ency, and neglect were recognized in very few of the counties, al­
though there were encouraging illustrations of constructive work
being done through juvenile courts that were functioning as the law
intended^ The weaknesses in the juvenile court law in Georgia
causing ft to fail of application call for new legislation redefining
jurisdiction in children’s cases and improving the administrative
provisions. Consideration should be given also to the relation of
problems of juvenile delinquency and dependency to other problems
with which the courts of the State are concerned, such as the custody
of minor children, adoptions, adults committing offenses against chil­
dren or contributing to their dependency or delinquency, nonsupport
pr desertion of minor children, determination of paternity and the
{support of children born out of wedlock, and the marriages of
1 Minimum Standards for Child Welfare, Adopted by the W ashington and Regional
Conferences on Child Welfare, 1919, pp. 11-14. U. S. Children’s Bureau Publication No
62. W ashington, 1920.
2 Sections of the standards other than those discussed are o f equal importance in con­
nection w ith child-welfare needs in Georgia but ate not referred t o ' here because the
survey did not go into the questions of S tate regulation o f agencies and institutions,
child placement, and in stitu tion al care.

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The standards call for a special method of detention for children
entirely apart from adult offenders. The Georgia law provided for
the abolition of jail detention for children coming under the jurisdic­
tion of the juvenile court (under 16 years of age), but its applica­
tion in this respect was found to be very limited. One hundred and
thirty-seven children brought before the courts in 1923 because of
delinquency were detained in jails pending hearings, some of them
for considerable periods ; and only a few children were provided for
in special detention quarters for juvenile delinquents or in boarding
homes. Jail detention is a source of grave danger to the morals
of the boys and girls who are allowed to c p m e in contact with vicious
and depraved adult prisoners. I t is a fruitful source of delinquency
and degeneracy. Proper detention facilities are designed to provide
surroundings that are physically and morally healthful and that are
an aid instead of a hindrance to plans which a properly functioning
juvenile court makes for the reeducation of delinquent and neglected

In order to safeguard the juvenile victims of sex offenses the
standards would require that the jurisdiction of the juvenile court
be extended to deal with adult offenders against children, or, if the
cases are dealt with in other courts, that the children be guarded
against unnecessary publicity and further corruption. The survey
showed that such cases for the most part were ignored or that sen­
tence was seldom imposed if a case came before the court. Except
for commitment to an industrial school, which in these cases was
infrequent, no special attention was given the child who Had suffered.
In order that the child who has been harmed may be protected and
helped to overcome the handicap of the experience, and that other
children in the community may be saved, it is necessary that adult
criminals shall not escape prosecution. I t is especially desirable that
a court with machinery for social investigation and follow-up work
should deal with such cases and that good probation service be
available for the investigation and supervision required.

The standards state that one of the fundamental rights of_ child­
hood is normal home life, which can not be provided except upon
the basis of an adequate family income. Nonsupport of children
has not yet been made an offense in Georgia. Legal steps against
the father can be taken only in the case of abandonment.3 In the
counties studied very few men were brought before the courts oq
this charge. Convictions were rare, and even when the father was
sentenced the family usually failed to benefit. In a few instances
in which probation service was available payments were enforced
through probationary supervision.
For legal application of the term “ abandoned ” see p. 28.
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The need for broader legal provision is evident, both from the
point of view of the welfare of the children whose fathers have
failed to fulfill their obligations to support them, and in the interest
of the community which must undertake to maintain the families
when other means of support fail. The provision of adequate pro­
bation service is also essential. In desertion and nonsupport cases
it is desirable that court action be avoided if proper care of the
family can be assured in other ways. The skilled probation officer
in dealing with these cases effects a settlement out of court if possi­
ble, obtains information concerning the circumstances in each case,
and places the court in a position to render constructive service.

In provision for the child born out of wedlock the standards recom­
mend that except for unusual reasons both parents should be held
responsible for the child during minority, emphasizing the impor­
tance of holding the father to his obligations and the desirability
of care by the mother, particularly during the nursing months.
The surrender of a child outside his own family should not be per­
mitted, the standards state, save with the consent of a properly desig­
nated State department or court of proper jurisdiction, and each
State should make suitable provision of a humane character for
establishing paternity and guaranteeing to the children their natural
Children born out of wedlock constitute a very serious problem
as dependents or potential dependents. For the proper safeguard­
ing of these children, and the protection of the public against an
undue burden of dependency, neglect, and degeneracy, this problem
needs to be dealt with in a constructive way. Court action in illegiti­
macy cases is essentially a child protective measure. Increasingly
the States are coming to realize this and are placing the jurisdiction
in juvenile courts or providing machinery for the social handling of
these cases in the interest of the child, at the same time safeguarding
the legal process as it affects the rights of the putative father and
the interests of the mother.

The standards would require that in every case involving legal
adoption of children the court should make full inquiry into all
the facts through its own visitor or through some other unbiased
agency before awarding the child’s custody. The survey showed
that in Georgia almost none of the courts handling adoption cases
had given any special consideration to the need of safeguarding the
children. Legislation that will protect the rights and assure the
welfare of children placed for adoption is being recognized as a
necessary part of a State program for children. The requirements
should include inquiry into the reasons for removal from the cus­
tody of parent or parents, the possibility of preventing such removal
if it would be in the interest of the child to remain in their care,
and investigation into the character of the prospective foster home.
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A period of placement before the legal award of a child’s custody
makes it possible to continue the oversight of the child until it is
known that conditions are satisfactory. In seyeral States the safe­
guarding of adoption has been considered an important, function of
the, department of public welfare,, which promotes the social treat­
ment of these cases by the courts.

Thè mere fact that a very small proportion of the children taken
under care by agencies and institutions were received through court
commitment shows that “ parental release,” or signing over by the
parents of their right to the custody of a child, was common. The
standards would require the consent of a State department or a
court of proper jurisdiction before the transfer of the legal guardian­
ship of a child is permitted. The Children’s Bureau survey in
Georgia did not go in any detail into the important question of
transfer of parental rights without court action. This subject, how­
ever, should receive serious attention in revising legislation for
■child protection. Legal safeguards of the transfer of guardianship
are obviously also needed not only that proper consideration of the
rights as well as the obligations of the parents may be insured but
that the necessary attention may be given to the disposition of the
child who is removed permanently from his own relatives. ; Fre­
quently such action is not based on the results of investigation of
the circumstances surrounding the case, and of inquiry as to whethei
it is desirable to remove the child from his parents or to absolve
•the parents from all future responsibility for his maintenance.

Legislation that will prevent such ill-advised child marriages as
were noted in the survey should include the following requirements :
(1) An interval between the application for the license and its
granting;4 (2) consent o.f parents for thè marriage of children under
certain spècified ages, such consent to be given in person; (3) posi­
tive proof of age in doubtful cases; and (4) publication of the
intention to marry. I t is further recommended that the juvenile
court be required to act in all cases in which one or both parties to
The proposed marriage are under a specified age.

The standards state that unless unusual «conditions exist the child’s
welfare is best promoted by keeping him in his own home and that
no child Should be permanently removed from his home unless it is
impossible só to reconstruct family conditions or build and supple­
ment family resources as to make the home safe for the child, or so
to supervise thé child as to make his continuance in the home safe
for the community. The policy of assistance to mothers who afe
competent to care for their children is well established (42 States
4 See footnote 37, p. 41.;
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have so-called mothers’ allowance laws). Such aid should be suffi­
cient to enable a mother to maintain her children in her own home
without resorting to such outside employment as will necessitate
leaving her children without proper care and oversight. The amount
required can be determined only by careful case study, renewed
from time to time to meet changing conditions. Georgia had enacted
no legislation for aid to children in their own homes, although
conditions in the State indicate the need for such a measure. When
a home is in danger of breaking down because of the lack of an
adequate income it becomes the duty of society to take such action
as will conserve the home for the children if possible.

The standards called for the application of the principles of child
care, as outlined in the minimum standards, to rural needs, the
encouragement of rural agencies and their adaptation to the peculiar
needs of rural communities, with the county as the best administra­
tive unit.5 In order to provide some means by which assistance and
protection can be afforded children in rural as well as urban com­
munities a number of States have made statutory provision for the
creation of county child-welfare boards or public-welfare boards,
employing superintendents of public welfare whose duty it is to
administer certain State laws within their counties and to deal in a
constructive way with the problems of dependency, neglect, delin­
quency, and mental or physical defects. The Georgia Department
of Public Welfare is promoting the organization of counties for wel­
fare work, though no specific law regarding such organization exists,
and it has pointed out that in the average rural Georgia county
one trained welfare worker can handle the work with the county’s
poor, its juvenile-court work, and its school-attendance work with
the volunteer help of churches and civic organizations. On the
basis of any one of the laws providing for appointment of a pro­
bation officer, a school attendance officer, and a commissioner of the
poor, or all of them, various plans may be worked out.6
The administration of child-welfare laws depends largely on the
understanding of the purposes of the legislation as applied to local
conditions affecting children. Properly administered laws are not
bludgeons to enforce compliance with arbitrary rules but are an ex­
pression of the State’s ideals in child protection. They should be a
means of furthering the standards of child-welfare work of the
community and of obtaining intelligent compliance with the funda­
mental principles which underlie them. The survey in the 30 coun­
ties of Georgia showed the need of intelligent consideration and
treatment of the individual children who had got into difficulty or
had suffered because of adult criminality or neglect, to the end that
these victims of social degeneracy might be saved as future good
citizens and that the community and the State might be spared an
increasing burden of care and correction.
8 See County Organization for Child Care and Protection (U. S. Children’s Bureau Pub­
lication No. 107, W ashington, 1922).
8 Footprints, Report of F ifth Year’s Work, June 1, 1925. S tate Department o f Public
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; t •>> í ' / ,

I K >;


" j S
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

U nited S tates D epartment of L abor
children ’s bureau '
W a s h in g t o n

D ate :

(Any court found to be handling cases of children under 18 years of age.
Make out separate schedule for each court)

City or town:
Number of children’s cases handled during 1923: Through formal court hear­
How selected:
Notes r e :
Staff of court: (Enter number of men and number of women under each type).
Probation service: Paid probation officers on full time—
on part
volunteer probation officers—
others (specify)-^
How appointed (whether by examination, etc.)?
Clerk and others:
Information in regard to each probation officer (full time, part time, or
volunteer) : Sex, approximate age, length of time with this court,'pre­
vious experience and qualifications for the work, salary paid by court,
arrangement if working for court part tim e:
Methods of bringing cases to court: Describe how children are arrested and
transported to the court, by whom complaints are received, who determines
whether or not a petition is to be filed, and how notice is served on the
parents and witnesses.
Investigation of cases:
By whom made—
What cases are investigated?
Method and scope of investigation (including use of data from social
agencies) :
Are physical examinations made?
In what types of cases?
By whom?
Are mental examinations made?
In what types of cases ?
By whom?
Informal adjustment of cases:
Proportion of all cases coming to the attention of the court handled in
this way—
Methods used in informal adjustment of cases of various types—
Describe room used for hearings—
Degree to which the hearing is private (persons admitted, etc.)—
Is jurisdiction waived in serious cases and the child held for criminal
trial? Give details.
Describe in detaij methods of hearings in various types of cases (attend
hearings, if possible; state whether description based on attendance at
hearings or on information secured from other sources).

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Disposition of cases:
Policies with reference to disposition of cases (i. e., types of cases in which
probation is used; types committed to training schools, prison, jail, chain
gangs, etc.; use of fines).
(a) Describe the organization of the probation service (i. e., division of
work among different officers, method of assignment of cases, super­
vision of staff, etc.).
(b) Describe methods of probation work (i. e., use of reporting, frequency
of home visits, cooperation with schools and recreational agencies,
usual length of probation, etc.)»
(c) Is probation terminated by definite release?
Is the child brought to court to be released from probation?
Is he notified of release from probation?
(d) Do the probation officers themselves place children in family homes?
Describe types of children placed and methods used:
(e) Do the probation officers place children through other agencies?
Name the agencies used, and describe arrangement—
Records and reports:
Describe record system; secure copies of all record forms, both legal and
social (label each with name of court and county).
Are monthly or annual reports compiled?
(Secure copies if possible.)

(Any court found to be handling cases of children under 18 years of age.
Make put separate schedule for each court.)

City or town:
Number of children’s cases handled during 1923: Through formal court hear­
How" selected:
Notes r e :
Staff of court (describe duties of each member of the staff, specify whether
paid or volunteer, time spent on court work, compensation, qualifications,
method of appointments, etc.) :
Investigation before first hearing or before disposition—by whom; describe
procedure, thoroughness, etc.:
Describe hearings:
Probation or social work done by the court (by whom done; methods; thor­
oughness ; etc.) :
Disposition of cases (policies regarding probation, commitment to institutions
for juveniles, penitentiary, chain gangs, etc.—for delinquent children ; policies
in regard to dealing with dependent and neglected children) :
(Data re child brought before court because of delinquency, neglect, or de­
pendency during the calendar year 1923.)
, City or town:
Type of case: Delinquency—
Name of child:
Home address:
Names of parents:
Civil status and whereabouts of parents:
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Date of birth:



Whereabouts of child (op date of complaint) :
School grade December 31, 1923 :
Charge (character of offense or complaint) :
Date of complaint :
Date of first hearing by court :
Detention pending hearing (where was child kept—if not in own home, specify
place and length of time, giving separately, with dates, the different periods,
as “ before first hearing,” “ first remand,"” etc.) :
Child’s previous court record (dates, courts handling, charges, and dispo­
sitions) :
Disposition :
Handled without formal hearing :
By whom—
Action taken—
Court hearings :
Placed on file or continued—
Sentence suspended—
Fined, amount-r
Restitution ordered, amount—
Committed (because of delinquency) to: Training school—
Chain gang—
Other specify—
Committed first hearing—
Committed after continuance—
Committed following probation—
Terms of commitment (length, payments by parents, etc) —
Committed to dependent institution : Name, terms of commitment—
Placed in family home (specify terms, etc., and whether relatives’ home
or other) :
By court direct—
Through child-placing agency—
Placed on probation, by whom supervised, and time period :
Paid probation officer?
Other (specify) :
Note.—If brought in again for violation of probation—with action
taken :
Case pending ; no action by December 31, 1923—
Was legâl guardianship transferred from parents? If so, give reason:
Responsible adults prosecuted by juvenile court:
By other court:
Action against whom, and results :
N ote .—If information is available as a basis for a good illustra­
tive story, write up child’s history in brief story form.


(Including remand, continuances, etc., all cases of children under 18 years
of age.)
County :
Check types used in county: Special detention home—
boarding homes—
local institutions (name)—
other (specify) —
Specify if differing for the various courts, and whether different types are
used for different age groups. (Secure information in regard to rural
sections as well as cities and towns. )
Describe for each type used the equipment, etc., as indicated, numbering items
as follows :
1. Special detention home.—Building, equipment, and management, and
daily activities of children ( school work, etc. ).
2. Boarding homes.—Describe each home so used, arrangements made, etc.
3. Local institutions.—Accommodations for court children.
4. Jail.—City and county separately. Provision made for children, con­
tact with adults, food, recreation, matron, etc.
Specify for each of the above the following facts :
City or town in which located—
Number of children provided for at time of visit—
Number of children provided for during 1923—
Policy in regard to length of stay. Note for each whether used for short­
term commitments—
92984°—26----- 7
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


County— Children under 18 detained during 1928

Name of

Sex Age

Place in

whom which
received held



Date Date
ceived charged



City or town:
Courts handling these cases:
Number of adults brought to court on charges of contributing to the neglect or
delinquency of children during the calendar year 1928. (Enter number of
neglect and of delinquency cases separately. If more than one court, give
number of cases for each.)
Number of children involved.
Describe court procedure in these cases. (Give separately for each court.)
Cases during 19231 (list the individual children involved and indicate the cases by

Age at
Name of child Sex time of


sex, age)

of case
to workhouse,
fine, etc.)

i Enter name of court over group of cases handled by it, juvenile over numbers 1, 2,3, etc., superior over
proper numbers, etc.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis




(Include all applications whether granted or refused)
County :
City or town :
Court handling adoptions:
Description of proceedure, including especially policy concerning investigation
of child’s own family and prospective adoption home, and methods of such
Cases during 1923

Sex petition signed by—

prior to
surrender 1

If under agency
care, how
How long?
Reason for
agency care 1

granted or
refused. If

1These items probably can not be secured from court records.
N ote.—In discussing problems with public officials and social agencies note any information secured

regarding unsuccessful adoptions or illustrating the need for investigation, etc. Enter such stories on
separate sheets attached to this.



City or town:
Courts handling these cases:
Describe procedure—complaint, hearing, special officers handling these cases,
methods of follow-up, use of probation, etc. (Give separately for each court.)
Cases during 1923 involving children under 18 years of age

(Include all complaints whether father brought to trial or not)


Name and
by court
not ap­
of family prehended informally.



and ages
of chil­
dren in
family 1

i include all children of family regardless of age. If children are not in parental home, state whereabouts.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



(In divorce and other cases)
City or town:
In what court are divorce cases heard?
Total number of divorce cases in 1923:
Number of these families having children under 18:
Any special arrangements for investigation concerning custody o f children
(including reference of cases to other courts) :
What court determines questions of transfer of legal guardianship, appoint­
ment of guardians of person, etc.?
Any special arrangements for investigation?
Divorce cases during 1923— Families having children under 18 years of age

Name and address

Number and ages
of children 1

To whom was custody
awarded (mother, fa­
ther, other—specify)


1If not in parental home, state whereabouts. Include all children of the family regardless of age.
N ote .—U se separate sheets attached to this for any information of interest concerning children affected
by divorce actions or b y actions for transfer of guardianship (not including adoptions).



County :
City or town:
To what official are these complaints made?
What court?
Number of complaints made during 1923:
Describe procedure—complaint, preliminary hearing, later hearings, etc.:
* Cases during 1923

made Date of Age of
(mother, plaint mother

Age of
said to
be the

or not

Result of
legal action.
(Case set­
tled before
Date of
prelimi­ Date of amount—
case dis­
trial missed,
ordered to
pay for
child’s sup­
port, etc.) 1




1If the case was settled or support was ordered, enter the amount of the settlement or the court order.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



(Cases dealt with by public and private agencies)
Secure from vital statistics any information available concerning illegitimate
births during 1923: Total legitimate births; total illegitimate; ages of
unmarried mothers; occupations; any other available data from records.
Give brief write-ups of illegitimacy cases on which information is secured
from social agencies, public officials, and others, with special reference to
disposition of child, support by father, past and subsequent history of
mother, agency work on case. (Use additional blank pages for case stories.)
The object of this schedule is to secure data concerning individual families
who might be eligible to receive “ mothers’ pensions.” Enter below data
relating to one family; information secured from county poor commissioners,
private relief agencies, and other organizations and individuals. Data for
time of agent’s visit, not for year.
Agency reporting:
Reason for dependency: Father—Dead,
Incapacitated by illness,
In insane asylum,
In prison,
Length of time since above:
Date of application for a id :
Ages of all children in fam ily: Boys—
Does the mother work?
Occupation and earnings:
Working children—Ages, occupations, and earnings of each:
Sources of family support:
Amount of aid given (specify time period) : County poor relief—
other (specify) —
Remarks ( anything of interest—showing the need for assistance, or family
conditions) :


(Either party under 18 years of age. Source: Marriage-license bureau)

City or town:
Child marriages during 1923

Date marriage
license issued


Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis







In eases of young people applying for marriage licenses, is any proof of age
required? (Birth certificate, baptismal certificate, etc.)
In cases of young people of an age when consent of parents is required before
a marriage license is granted, is any proof of identity required of those who
state they are parents and wish to give consent?
N ote.— Enter on separate sheet attached to this, notes on any reported cases
of unsuccessful, marriages whose failure may be due to the youth of the bride
or groom; also information secured in regard to divorce cases involving per­
sons married when under 18 years of age.
County :
Location of almshouse :
Number of children in almshouse during 1928 :
Policy in regard to receiving children, and length of stay :
Describe quarters provided for children with special reference to separation
from adults, arrangement made when mother is also in institution (whether
child with mother, both mother and child with other adults), sleeping quar­
ters, recreation,-schooling (in the institution or in neighboring school), etc.
Include description of arrangements if separate buildings are provided for
children on the grounds of almshouse for adults :
Children under 18 cared for during 1928

With mother
Men­ Phys­
Date Date
Illegit­ Date
dis­ Child
Race Sex Legit­
imate imate birth ceived charged born Com­ con­ con­
with dition dition
alms­ mother
i If data can be secured in regard to—(a) Reason for coming to almshouse, (b) reason for discharge, and
(c) person or agency to whom discharged, use additional sheet, numbering entries to correspond. Also
give other available details including whereabouts of both parents and other items concerning the family.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis






Use one sheet for a summary of the delinquency situation in the county,
heading' this “ Summary.”
For material in story form, describing either individual cases or gang
activities, use a separate sheet for each story, if practicable. Be as specific
as possible concerning ages of children, home conditions, offenses committed,
and other significant facts.
If activities designed to prevent delinquency are discovered, describe them.
The marginal space is for editing in the Washington office.
At the beginning of each story enter sources of information.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis