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for the Blind

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The Unprivileged, as published in Home Magazine, (November, 1931)


"The Unprivileged"

I wonder if you have tried to imagine what unemployment does to boys and girls in families of comfortable circumstances - children who have had good food, clothing and warm beds, who have gone to school and enjoyed the companionship of other children.

These children are suddenly transported to an impoverished home, they go to bed hungry and sleep in unwholesome, overcrowded quarters; they run errands and peddle papers for a few pennies to buy bread; and all this through no fault of their parents who are willing and anxious to work, but they tramp the streets all day and find no work!

This disaster may happen to any worker under our modern industrial system. The children of any respectable working-man's family are faced with these hardships when the small savings of the parents are used up by illness or lack of work.

One terrible result of these wrong life conditions because evident last year when 37,000 boys under sixteen years of age were brought before our juvenile courts, and it is a fact that our penal institutions are fed largely from this class of young delinquents, who commit about forty-four percent of the crimes in New York City! This should cover the fact of Manhattan with shame. For it means that every boy there has a one-to-three chance that his name will find its way into the criminal records before he is sixteen years old. Is not this a special problem for women, since they have to mold the minds and keep pure the souls of the young?

As you realize that in New Jersey there are now 2715 feeble-minded children being cared for in institutions, and there are still 814 on the waiting list, let it be remembered, there is no state in the Union more advanced or earnest in its care and training of mental defectives than New Jersey.

There are also in New Jersey 11,681 crippled children, and in New York City 30,000 under eighteen years of age!

Our tuberculosis hospitals are filled to the limit with patients, and still they come. Very young workers contract this disease working and living under conditions which inevitably produce invalids by the thousands. Any one who makes a study of this appalling situation knows that wrong industrial conditions are responsible, and that only by removing these conditions can this menace to public welfare be checked.

Again, in Greater New York there are a million and five hundred thousand children, of whom a very large part - perhaps five hundred thousand - are under-privileged, suffering from malnutrition or physical defects. They grow up in an environment that in the nature of things breeds more poverty and more defectives.

It is urgent that women should take hold of these questions and seek a commonsense solution. It is not more relief that is needed so much as more education, more preventive measures. It is up to women to try to understand why there is so much preventable wretched methods of preventing it.

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