My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK, Monday—We had an uncertain trip home by air from Cincinnati last week because as we started they told us we might not get into LaGuardia Field because of low visibility. However, as far as we could see the sky was clear until we actually landed at LaGuardia.

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Last Friday I attended a lunch given by Mr. Isaac Liberman for some of his colleagues of the New York department stores. These ladies and gentlemen have always been very generous and helpful in raising our budget for Wiltwyck School. We struggle with this budget every year because in Wiltwyck the cost for each child runs very high. Many of the children have had rickets and need good food. Nearly all need psychiatric care and dental and medical care.

The regular teaching provided by the city school system must frequently be supplemented by some special remedial teaching. In addition, the work done with the families of these children by the Wiltwyck office in Manhattan and the follow-up of all the boys who are permitted to leave as rehabilitated is very costly.

I think that this school at the present time, when problems of juvenile delinquency are disturbing everybody, is deserving of public support because of its experimental nature. Most of us worry over what makes the young juvenile delinquent who seems to be so completely cruel that one can hardly imagine a returned prisoner of war, who has been familiar with death and cruelty on the part of his captors and may be mentally afflicted, doing the things that these young boys are reported to have done, apparently without a thought.

Some people say that we have spared the rod and spoiled the child, others think it is the effect of TV, or radio, or comic books, or a breakdown in the American home. None of these seem to me to be a sufficient answer. It is true that poor environment and the poor home may be accountable for a great deal in a child but even this does not always produce a pattern of violent cruelty in the very young. So the studies of the children at Wiltwyck may lead to a better understanding of this problem, which to some of us seems one of the most baffling things on the local horizon today.