AUGUST 26, 1957
HYDE PARK—I am rather sorry to find that the State Department is only going to allow reporters to go to China on a six-months basis, since quite naturally I fear that I cannot qualify. Six months is rather long for me to be away! Certain people who do not like me have already suggested to me that I might go to the Soviet Union and stay there, and I have no doubt there are others who feel that if they could not get rid of me permanently it would be pleasant to have me leave even for six months. Unfortunately, I would prefer to live permanently in my own country, though I do think it is both desirable and pleasant to see other countries and other peoples and to get an idea of what is going on in other parts of the world.
There was an interesting article in one of our newspapers the other day describing the type of family where delinquency flourishes. I did not realize, for one thing, that one percent of New York's population—an estimated 25,000 families—are believed by city officials to produce three-quarters of the city's juvenile delinquency. I have read case records on delinquent children, however, so I am not at all surprised by the conditions described in this article. It points out, for example, that the mother in the family selected for study is more or less mentally deficient.
One has a feeling that somewhere along the line the question must be faced of whether people who are so evidently unable to manage themselves should be allowed to have children. As it is, many agencies and institutions have to be called in to care for these families. The children are placed in foster homes. Obviously it would be a very exceptional foster home which would be able to do the rehabilitation work that is probably necessary for these children. They are likely, in spite of all the efforts brought to bear on their behalf, to be in conflict with the law and brought into court. For some of them, it is even questionable whether rehabilitation will be possible in the first place.
Care of the mother will also take a great deal of somebody's time. She may or may not be able to straighten out her own situation. Even if she is helped to straighten it out, she may be unable later on to keep it straightened out.
It is quite evident from this report that real efforts are being made to begin to deal with some of these families and to discover what, if anything, can be done either on a temporary or a permanent basis. The article is also very valuable because too many of us deplore delinquency conditions without realizing what lies back of them. It also shows that the effort to deal with the problem is being made by many city and private organization officials who require the cooperation of the ordinary citizen to do this on an efficient basis.