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parents, oftener by their apparent necessities but in a far greater number of cases by sheer neglect.
While parents and others who have care of children should be held strictly responsible for their education, there are many parents, who not having sufficient moral perception of their duty nor intelligent regard for their children to cause them to attend school, are incompetent to control them and not fit persons to be entrusted with their education. In such cases, if the children are young and not vicious, they should be provided for in the County Homes until other family homes can be provided for them. Or if too immoral for such treatment and requiring restraint and rigorous discipline, the Reform and Industrial schools seem to be the places for them. Doubtless most of the children who are committed to these reformatories would never have become subjects for such treatment, if they had had proper control and care in their earlier years. It is, nevertheless, true that children who are unaccustomed to obey and with habits of vice already formed and truant from school do need such restraint and control. As my duties bring me in contact with children after their vicious habits have been formed, I have found more frequent occasion for committing children to these institutions than to the County Homes.
The number of children stated to have been found absent from school in violation of law in my former reports was intended to include those only who had not attended sixty days and were not excusable on account of their mental or physical condition. The number which I have given in this report includes some others who had attended sixty days or more, but less than one hundred and twenty, and whose attendance was very irregular without any good reason. As the laws now require children over eight and under sixteen years of age to be at school regularly while the schools are in session, when not employed to labor,-those over fourteen being entirely excusable for that purpose, those thirteen years of age when they have attended school sixty days of the preceding twelve months, and those under thirteen when they have attended one hundred and twenty days,-it is very difficult to ascertain what number of children are unlawfully absent from school. Inspection of school registers, especially those of the small schools, show that but few children attend one hundred and twenty days, while some between the ages of eight and fourteen are not present sixty days during the year.
Probably our laws are now as strict as they can be made, re
quiring more than similar laws in any other State. Yet it is obvious that there are many ways to evade them. The ages of the children, their health, their employment and the ability of the parents to clothe them are in many cases not known to any except their parents with sufficient exactness to warrant the use of legal measures to enforce attendance at school. It is possible, however, in many cases to show before the proper authority that there has been gross neglect and violation of law. The punishment of the guilty in such cases produces a salutary effect on others whose guilt in neglecting to cause their children to attend school it would not be possible to prove. In this way those who are negligent can generally be affected and made to comply in a fair degree with the requirements of the law.
I have not found many occasions for prosecutions of employers, for reasons above stated. Of the six who were prosecuted four were manufacturers and two were merchants. Two of the indictments contained counts for violations of the law prohibiting the employment of children under thirteen years of age. The other indictments were for employment of children under fourteen years of
age who had not attended school sixty days of the preceding twelve months. In every case where I have caused the prosecutions of employers and parents during the past year, the persons complained of have pleaded guilty, or have been convicted. In one case of a parent, judgment was suspended entirely, in some others judgment was suspended in part as provided by the law. Four cases were appealed, but settled before trial in the Superior Court by paying the fines and costs imposed by the lower court.
In all the towns where any of these prosecutions have been made there has been prompt and faithful coöperation on the part of local officers.
There is evidently an increasing tendency to regard violators of these school laws,-those who rob children of their opportunity for education,-as deserving punishment quite as much as those do who violate any other criminal statutes.
The special reports which I have made since January, 1887, of most of the cases of neglect which I have investigated, including the condition of families visited and prosecutions made, will, I trust, render
further details of my work unnecessary at this time.
GILES POTTER. New Haven, September 1st, 1887.
HARTFORD Co. East Windsor.. Enfield New Britain Southington N'w Haven Co. New Haven Branford Derby Guilford Hamden Madison Milford Naugatuck North Haven.. Seymour.. Wallingford Waterbury N. LONDON Co. New London. Norwich. Griswold Sprague Stonington. FAIRFIELD Co. Bridgeport Huntington. Norwalk Stamford Stratford. Trumbull.
42 23 2
5.16 817 3
85 9 4 8
I 12 14
649 168 27 15
EMPLOYMENT OF CHILDREN.
In the report of 1887, the record of active work by agents closed with January 5th, 1887, and is summarized on table following page 116 in Report for that year. The record of this report closes with August 31, 1887.
August 31, Jan. 5,
1887. 1887. Total. Number of towns visited.
95 150 establishments specially inspected 113 288
307 1842 2149
On pages 36 and 37 will be found a table giving details of the work of agents.
The agents employed under this law have, since June 1st, 1887, given attention to the law relating to attendance,
Few cases of violation of the law have been discovered. These cases range all the way from pure accident to careless and illegal negligence.
The law is plain and simple and easy of administration. None of the evils which were apprehended from its passage have resulted Business has not been affected, no appreciable number of families have left the State. Idleness has not increased, vagabondage is not prevalent, and cases of hardship have not been numerous.
There is no evidence that attendance at school has sensibly increased in consequence of the discharge of 1173 children from employment. As is stated on page 28, the rapacity of parents has impelled them to false statements concerning the ages of their children. The reports indicate extensive, deliberate and unqualified lying for the sole purpose of securing the money which their children can earn. It is difficult and generally impossible to fix this falsification by evidence admissible in court. The result is, that children are employed who ought not to be employed, and are out of school when they ought to be in school.
Employers have generally yielded cheerful obedience to the law, assisted in its execution, and approved its form and principle. The exceptions are so few that they are conspicuous.