OCTOBER 15, 1946
NEW YORK, Monday—Some time this week, I am going to speak at a meeting concerned with recreation in the city of New York. Since most of us, in every city and even in rural areas throughout the country, cannot escape deep concern for the rise in juvenile delinquency everywhere, I think it is well to consider some of the things contributing to this rise and some of the efforts which can be made to meet it.
This condition occurs after all wars. The discipline of children has been relaxed, for their parents have been in the armed forces or have been working long hours in defense industries. Mothers as well as fathers have been out of the home to a great extent. In certain areas, however, there is always trouble with the children, arising from the bad conditions under which they live. Overcrowding, with all of its harmful results, exists in certain parts of big cities at all times. It is vastly increased immediately after a war.
In New York City, certain districts, such as the old downtown slum areas, have always had difficulty with the youngsters. The Henry Street Settlement has introduced many a young man to the problems of his city, and many of those men are now serving in public office or are running for election.
* * *
It is vitally necessary to the meeting of this problem that we elect to office men who understand that everything they do touches the lives of individuals, particularly the lives of children, and through them will affect the future of the nation. We can never separate problems like juvenile delinquency from government and from the choice of candidates for government office.
Here in New York State, this November, we will have to weigh candidates for governor, for the United States Senate, for the House of Representatives, for the State Legislature and for city offices. We must do so with a view to all kinds of problems, but we must bear in mind that all problems touch our children.
Former Gov. Herbert H. Lehman worked closely for years with Miss Lillian Wald on the problems of the Henry Street Settlement, and I am sure that this training affected his attitude on many questions as Governor and in his relief work. He is today a great humanitarian with a real understanding of the problems at home and abroad as they affect disadvantaged people and, above all, the children of the nation.
* * *
I have a particular interest that all children should be treated without discrimination. Opportunities for better recreation, for better education, and for better care in state institutions, should be alike for all children. The work which I have watched so closely at Wiltwyck School taught me the needs not only of our Harlem children, but also of many of our other children who come from distressed areas.
Words and promises are never enough. Performance is what counts. And when we deal with juvenile delinquency, it is performance in providing all the children of our country with facilities which will keep them out of trouble and, if they happen to get into trouble, with the best possible care.
Choose your government officials with this in mind!