The theory posed here by Dr. Schlapp of Cornell Med School is that kids who commit crimes are either normal kids who unfortunately live in abnormal environments, or they are themselves physically or mentally abnormal. In these cases, if we can cure the defect, the child should no longer have criminal tendencies. Easy enough.
In the furtherance of this effort to reclaim unfortunate boys and girls, every child that is arrested in the City of New York is taken to the Children’s Society, and, whether the offense be serious or trivial, an examination that is complete as medical science can make it is conducted, for the purpose of discovering whether or not the little one is mentally disturbed, and, if he is, whether that condition is due to defects in heredity or in environment.
After the examination of the child has indicated the nature of the moral or physical defect that has landed him in the clutches of the law, that child becomes a subject of observation on the part of the doctors and agents of the Children’s Society. if his predicament is the result of an inherited disease, the plan is to treat him medically until the last trace of that disease has been eradicated, and that accomplished, to judiciously train and look after him until he becomes his own master and is able to take his place in life as a useful member of society…
Here is an actual case that recently came to the attention of the Children’s Society.
A boy, 10 years old, was arrested by the police at a seaside resort. He had stolen about $20 from his father. He did not deny it, and when asked if he would do so again, answered, “Yes, if I get a chance.”
For several years the lad had been in the habit of running away from home. The laymen would call him an incorrigible. Apparently he was mentally normal, yet he had no feeling whatever for father, mother, or sister, or anybody else except himself. He was absolutely morally deficient. That boy needed, and he is getting, medical treatment and observation, and the chances are that he will be saved.
It’s unclear to me what kind of medical treatment would cure a boy of morally deficiency, and the article does not elaborate. But they’re going to have their work cut out for them, as one week earlier the Magazine noted that 11,000 kids were arrested last year alone.
TO LESSEN CRIME IN CHILDREN THROUGH MEDICAL CARE: The Work of Dr. M. G. Schlapp of Cornell University Medical School Among the Feeble Minded and Unfortunate Young in New York; Scientific Observations of the Environments and the Symptoms of Mentally Defective Children to be Collected and Recorded. (PDF)
From August 14, 1910