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Were Reform Schools an effective response to mid 19th century Juvenile crime?

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Matt Eagles (322914) Were Reform Schools an effective 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. ...read more.


That event was in1833 and perhaps acted as a precursor for the welfare of children to this day. Carpenter initiated her work with poor children in and around the slums of her native Bristol in 1846, shocked by the level of delinquency that seemed to be of high representation amongst the poor and impoverished. As Young and Ashton cite 'In this she was faced with the riotous behaviour of untamed and poverty-stricken children, yet she succeeded in holding their interest by her ability and enthusiasm'. In concentrating her efforts on the unruly and difficult members of her ragged school she found the direct correlation between poor family stability and the learning of criminal tendencies from early ages. In 1851 Carpenter published her essay on Reformatory Schools for the Perishing and Dangerous Classes and for Juvenile Offenders, just a year later she opened her own reformatory for boys in Kingswood, Carpenters schools would be structures around the family unit as this was deemed the failings of those who were suffering from delinquency. In the classic liberal state the family was key, home was to be a haven where a healthy home life breads productivity. The reformatory schools would therefore promote this ideal of family. Ultimately a simple replacement for prison the reform schools were established in rural settings away from the sinful cities with a matriarchal and patriarchal figure instilling discipline that was deemed appropriate for children as a social grouping instead of a generic punishment fitting the crime. ...read more.


Further more the attempts to change the working class and poor children of Britain had overlooked the foundations that had built the situation to what it was. A success would have been the sheer fact that while the occupants were in the reform schools there was a chance that the conditioning that had occurred during their lives had the opportunity to be undone, Carpenter herself had no idea of how long the process would take for absolute reform despite her conviction that it could happen. The reform schools had scored many achievements I feel that set the wheels of change for juvenile delinquency. Not so much a revolution but rather an evolution of ideals marked by key goals, the end of transportation in 1867 and the establishment of a children's court in 1905 were two, as was the 1876 Education Act that initiated Truant Schools and Industrial Day Schools. The society in what people live dictates the outcome of how they behave, for the poor and impoverished society was hard, with little or no opportunities for progress of success of any sort, therefore the people reflected this social climate through their actions. The correlation between crime and poverty is a worldwide problem that is not fully addressed by the most advanced governments around the world today. ...read more.

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