My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

CHICAGO, Monday—A young woman who came to see me in New York City the other morning brought to my attention a situation of which I think comparatively few people are aware.

She has a child who is strong and healthy physically and quite brilliant mentally, but who is emotionally uncontrolled. No amount of training teaches her self-control, and as a result she can never be trusted where anything might irritate or excite her. She has been in schools, but is now in an insane asylum because the doctors all say it is not safe to allow her to associate with normal young people of her own age.

The mother feels that some State or Federal institute should provide the proper kind of environment and supervision for this type of youngster. She insists that much juvenile delinquency occurs through the influence of such young people. She has been told by reform schools that they do not want such youngsters because they feel they are dangerous. In no state and under no Federal program can she find a place where this child can be properly cared for. Therefore, a brilliant youngster, for the most part normal, is learning rebellion behind the bars of an insane asylum.

The mother looked at me pleadingly and said, "Something must be done," and I agreed that it was vitally necessary. But unless doctors put on a full-fledged campaign of information, I could not see how members of state legislatures or members of Congress would feel justified in appropriating the necessary money. Most of them will have to have it proved to them that there are enough children of this kind to require special schools to house them.

* * *

Our drive to Walworth, Wisconsin, yesterday to see my eldest grandson began in a real snowstorm. Mrs. Ellsworth Mills and her son had offered to drive us there, and I thought they were very courageous to stick to their plans. Mrs. Mills' younger son is with my grandson at the Northwestern Military and Naval Academy, so she was anxious to get a glimpse of her boy and therefore willing to face what looked like a very stormy day. However, by the time we reached Wisconsin, the skies had cleared, and the rest of our drive was under very favorable conditions.

I like this school very much. The young Episcopalian clergyman who is headmaster has undertaken a big job, but in some ways the military training of the school has a democratizing effect. I was interested to see how much my grandson has developed in the two years since we last met. This is partly, of course, the effect of his work last summer with his parents on their newspaper in Phoenix, Arizona, but the school too must be given credit for much of his development.

* * *

Today I am to speak for the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations on the subject of the United Nations and human rights. Mr. Adlai Stevenson, who urged me to come here, could make a far better speech than I, for he headed the Preparatory Commission in London before the first meeting of the U. N. General Assembly and he did valiant work as an alternate in our delegation to the second meeting of the Assembly. However, he is not so familiar with the work of the Human Rights Commission, so perhaps I can contribute something new on that particular subject.

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL