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they were based. With the delinquents the more important facts respecting temperamental constitution were gathered, not from the first statements of the teachers, parents, or care committee visitors (though these were often invaluable), but from long intercourse with the children themselves, during out-of-school hours, in simple but varied social situations. Accordingly, for comparison a similar approach was sought to one hundred of the normal boys and fifty of the normal girls. For example, when calling upon, or offering an invitation to, one of the delinquent children, a second call or invitation was extended to a non-delinquent child of the same age and of the same school, dwelling, as a rule, in the same locality and street. Comparable pairs were thus studied side by side1. No attempt, however, was made to ascertain the working of psycho-analytic mechanisms among the control-groups, since this would have entailed an indefinite number of interviews with each child singly.

Such a twofold enquiry renders the whole procedure slow, and restricts the inferences drawn to a small and limited group. On the other hand, could all investigators adopt the same principle and pursue the same method, trustworthy results and tenable conclusions would be speedily achieved. Where, for instance, the assessment of certain factors is necessarily a matter of subjective impression-as in such vague conditions as alcoholism, poverty, and temperamental qualities-the percentages for the control-groups immediately afford a clue as to how the investigator is interpreting his terms. And, in the absence of any such control-enquiry, what is actually a characteristic of the general population, may be wrongly mistaken for a peculiarity of the criminal.


The conditions observed in both delinquent and non-delinquent groups are tabulated in detail in Tables V to VIII. The descriptions

1 By repeated interviews I have made myself personally acquainted with every one of the 347 children in question. I am also indebted to many voluntary collaborators who have helped me, often at considerable cost of time and money to themselves, along similar lines; more particularly to Miss V. G. Pelling, Miss W. Charles, Miss D. Miller, Miss P. Woursell, Miss J. Kenwrick, Mr Eric Farmer, and Mr Raisley Moorsom; and to a group of residents and workers associated with the Passmore Edwards Settlement. To head-teachers and to class-teachers, to organisers and visitors for children's care committees, my obligations are too numerous to specify. To Miss M. Alston and to Mr F. R. Hoare I am especially grateful for reports and detailed after-histories of children examined by me for the Sysonby Colony for Juvenile Delinquents; and to Miss Rawlinson, welfare-worker for the Committee for the Moral Welfare of Children (Islington and Finsbury), for similar notes upon others of my cases that have passed through her hands.

employed for the most part explain themselves1. The figures are shown in the form of percentages: and indicate the number of times the item specified was observed per hundred cases. The averages given for the delinquents are weighted averages, that is, they are based upon the total number of cases taken regardless of sex, not upon the simple arithmetic mean of the two percentages for boys and girls.

It will be at once perceived that an immense variety of adverse influences may, in a larger or smaller measure, provoke or pre-dispose to delinquency in children. In all, over 170 distinct conditions have been encountered, and are enumerated in the tables, every one of them likely to affect the child unfavourably. Seventy different conditions have been noted as forming, in one instance or another, the principal cause of a given child's criminality.

Thus, at the very outset, in studying delinquency, as in most other fields of individual psychology, we are confronted with the fact of multiple determination. Crime in any given person proves nearly always attributable, not to some single all-pervading cause, but to a converging multitude of alternative factors; and the nature of these factors, and of their varying combinations, may differ widely in different individuals.


Amid all the tangle of contributory causes, some single condition not infrequently stands out as the most prominent or the most influential2. Often it can be definitely established that the individual in question showed no delinquent tendencies until the year of some unfortunate event. An illness, a friendship with some base acquaintance, the death or the re-marriage of a parent, the emergence within the growing child himself of some fresh interest or instinct-some dated crisis of this kind has often ascertainably preceded, and has perhaps plainly provoked, the first delinquent outburst. At times, with the same abruptness, so soon

1 Some, it is true, are extremely vague. But in a brief preliminary review it seemed hardly worth while to define or discuss each condition at length. For the vaguest of all— the psychological factors—a fuller explanation will be found in a series of more popular articles recently published on "The Causes and Treatment of Juvenile Delinquency," Psyche, Vol. II, Nos. 3 and 4, and Vol. III, No. 1.

2 This seems to have been the experience of other investigators; see e.g. Healy, The Individual Delinquent, p. 162. We ourselves started with a fourfold classification of factors: (1) the principal or most conspicuous influence (if any); (2) the chief cooperating factor or factors; (3) minor predisposing or aggravating conditions; (4) conditions present but apparently inoperative. This subdivision, however, proved too elaborate for so small an array of cases; and, for the present preliminary account, it has seemed advisable to reduce the classification to the simpler twofold distinction as above described.

as the untoward condition has been removed, the child's misbehaviour has diminished and his outbreaks have ceased. In other instances some salient quality of the child's mind, existing from birth or inherited from his parents, at once explains the misconduct: a strong sex instinct, a weak and suggestible temper, or a general deficiency of intelligence. But in many cases to discover any one predominating factor is a more doubtful and precarious business. Here, to reduce the effect of personal preconceptions, each individual child has been discussed with other investigators who had equally a first-hand knowledge of his case; and an opinion has been passed only when an agreement has been attained. In a few rare instances, two or more factors seem to have exercised an influence that was almost equal; neither element alone, it would appear, could have precipitated the delinquency: it is the mutual reaction of the two which, by a kind of psychological chemistry, has generated the ultimate explosion. In such an event I have allowed the same weight to both cooperating factors by counting the equivalent of half a case to each. Last of all, there remains a distinct proportion, which, whether from the nature of the circumstances, or from the incompleteness of the analysis, have baffled all efforts at assigning any paramount factor. These last have been recorded under a separate heading of their own. In the rest of the cases the contributory causes have been separated into major factors and minor.

A summary of the numerous conditions, classified under fifteen heads, is shown in Table II. Major factors seemed discernible in about 95 per cent. of the cases, leaving about 5 per cent. (rather less in the case of the girls) with the major factor undetected or unassigned. In addition, subordinate factors1 were recorded about 900 times per hundred casesrather more with the girls, rather less with the boys. On an average, therefore, each delinquent child is the product of nine or ten adverse circumstances, one as a rule predominating, and all conspiring to draw him into crime.

The type of condition noted, however, is by no means peculiar to delinquent families. The same circumstances were observed in the nondelinquent cases 300 times per cent.2. Thus, in children of the same social class similar conditions may coexist-on an average, about 3 per case

1 Many of these are, of course, but aspects or consequences of other factors; thus the death of the father may lead to poverty, weak discipline, re-marriage of the mother, and a step-father complex with two or three different elements, all separately enumerated in the tables. In this section of the text, hereditary conditions, existing in the parents and relatives, have not been reckoned as additional to the corresponding condition in the child.

* This figure does not include complexes, which were left unexplored in the controlgroup.


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1 See footnotes (1) and (*) to Table VI.

2 Hereditary conditions, enumerated under I as occurring in the family history, have not been included in the grand totals, since presumably they have already been reckoned, as occurring in the children themselves, in headings II, III and IV.

without plunging the child into a criminal career. It must, as a rule, therefore, be either the number of factors or the particular combination of them, that renders delinquency a probable result.


With groups and group-differences so small as those here studied, it is needful to bear always in mind the degree of error which the narrow range of cases inevitably permits. Consider, as an illustrative instance, the effect of a sexually immoral home upon boys and girls respectively. Among the delinquent girls there were six living under such conditions; among the delinquent boys there were only three--half the number in a group nearly twice the size. Is this difference significant? May we validly deduce from it that an immoral mother contaminates her daughters more than she corrupts her sons? Or may the slight divergence of figures be, after all, nothing but a chance fluctuation due to the small numbers thus compared? The point can be settled by a simple statistical check. Computed by the customary formula1, the standard error of sampling for the difference observed proves to be 3.5. The difference between the two percentages is itself 2.4~8-25-8-less than twice the sampling error. Accordingly, it is highly possible that a difference relatively so slight might have arisen by pure accident. When, however, we turn to the larger groups, and compare the percentage for the entire set of delinquents (4-6) with that for the entire set of non-delinquents (0-25), the sampling error, in virtue of the larger numbers, now sinks to 1.5; the difference observed is almost three times this figure. Here, therefore, there is little danger that we may be dealing with some accidental discrepancy; and it becomes legitimate to infer that an immoral home definitely favours crime.

I shall not burden the reader with a "probable error" for each isolated figure. Where the statistical precisian requires it, the margin for inaccuracy due to sampling can be roughly gauged from the abbreviated table below (Table III). It will be seen that, in comparing the main groups of delinquents and non-delinquents, the differences in the body of the table can seldom be significant, unless the one percentage is three or four times the size of the other; in the totals, an addition of about half as much again may be suggestive. Thus, pairs like 0.5 and 5·0, 2 and 8, 6 and 14, 24 and 36, begin to indicate a genuine difference. In comparing the smaller groups, however-for example, the delinquent boys with the delinquent girls-little weight can be attached to the numerical differences, without further argument in their support.

1 G. Udny Yule, Introduction to the Theory of Statistics (2nd ed.), p. 269.

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