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Reform Schools As A Response To Mid 19th Century Juvenile Crime

1753 words - 7 pages

Reform Schools as a Response to mid 19th Century Juvenile Crime

From the onset of the Industrial revolution, Britain saw overcrowding
in all of her major cities. The workforce that previously found its
employment in agriculture now had to descend upon the cities in order
to survive. These large numbers of people were focused in small areas
around British cities, and without the readiness of employment or
occupation there was a high crime rate complemented by an
ever-increasing population. The rise in juvenile or youth based crime
took on a massive upsurge during this period in and around the
metropolis. Dickens in Oliver Twist paints a portrait of a ragged
London with thieves and crime being on every corner, with little or no
other option for those involved. This was the case, and posed a
serious threat to those who were in positions of influence. Perhaps
the major factor in the problem of delinquency was the actual role of
the child at this period, there was not a clear definition between the
roles of children and adults, the indicative factor was surrounding
employment. The big change came from this separation of spheres from
adult to child through defining what was a child. Taken for granted
throughout the western world in the 21st century, are the social
parameters of what a child was and how they were regarded by society,
this was defined and ultimately revolutionised during the period of
Enlightenment.

The changes were not an overnight ideal but one based on the study and
insight gained by observing children. The period of the enlightenment
bought about a newfound desire for documentation and data collection
surrounding children. Aside from many other vital observations in the
emergence of the child, the issue of criminal responsibility arose and
was addressed. Questions lay with the ability of children to recognise
right from wrong, Rousseau's Innocent child raised the theory that the
child was a pure and unsullied article ready to be educated and shaped
for the good of society and the world in which they exist. The role of
the child was to change dramatically from being fellow breadwinners
within a household to that in need of nurturing. The 1840's marked the
changing period for the child, with the increase of data gatherings
and royal commissions investigating child labour, it became evident
that childhood was being neglected and this was having contributory
effects on the behavioural patterns of the child. The family unit was
viewed as the key to a successful and prosperous nation, whilst also
being the first line of defence in the battle against juvenile
delinquency. With the establishment of the definitions between child
and adult and the new mindset regarding Rousseauian Naturalism towards
children's responsibilities, it was also apparent that there needed to
be a...

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