JANUARY 23, 1947
NEW YORK, Wednesday—During the war we became more and more conscious of the fact that the children of today are put under extraordinary mental and emotional strain. Whether it is the speeding up of life, or the concentration in big cities, or the general machine age in which we live, the fact is very evident that mental and emotional breakdown among young people is more frequent today than it was even one generation ago.
This has led to the attacking of the problem at different levels. Able psychiatrists who, during the war, had charge of men in the armed forces traced their troubles back to childhood days, and realized that psychiatric care, to be effective, should start at an early age.
For this purpose, here in New York City, there has been established a center for psychiatric treatment for pre-day nursery school children, in the Halsey Day Nursery building at 227 East 59th Street. It is supported by the National Council of Jewish Women. In this building there will also be established a center to be known as the Council for the Child Development Center, where training and advice will be available to parents and nursery-school teachers, child psychiatrists and psychiatric case workers.
Anyone who has had experience with delinquent children realizes that the old adage, "Give me a child until it is seven, and you can have him for the rest of his life," was based on a great truth, for it is in these early formative years that character is made or broken.
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It seems very remote from this treatment of children to the consideration of how nations shall get on together. However, the other day, in talking to Dr. Frank Fremont-Smith of the Josiah Macy Foundation, I realized that the attitude which we held as children might very easily obstruct our ability to create a family of nations. Our subconscious prejudices, our reactions which we cannot even explain, might create antagonisms which we do not consciously desire and for which we cannot even account. This is particularly important, of course, in the case of diplomatic representatives. And I begin to think that our next great study should be made in the use of psychiatry by people who wish to deal in public relations at home or abroad.
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We have just put the first signature on a peace treaty with Italy which seems to have brought about the resignation of Premier Alcide de Gasperi and his government. One cannot help wondering whether this abdication in the face of a hard situation is the right or the wrong way to meet it. I feel that every treaty should provide for reconsideration of its clauses as time goes on. But when this reconsideration should take place would have to be decided very largely as changes took place within the countries involved.