chapter  11
45 Pages

The Parents and Others. Present and Absent

A factor which leaves no doubt of its importance in the backgrounds of these Approved School girls is the broken home. Calculated merely from those broken by death, separation, divorce and desertion, without including splits due to illegitimacy, and causes such as parental imprisonment or illness, the figures are 52·2 per cent for the 500 sample, and 51 per cent for the 100 sample. From what the writer can trace this seems to exceed the figure found in any major research into male juvenile delinquency. Dr Epps' Borstal Group1 containing 45·7 per cent Approved School failures, had only 30·6 per cent with homes broken by death, divorce and separation; her subsequent study of 100 recidivist Borstal girls2 had 35 per cent with homes broken by divorce and separation alone1• (Figures for broken homes for these reasons given by Charlotte Banks3 for samples of boy delinquents in Table IX of Stephanos: Studies in Psychology, pp. 173-203 show totals of 33 per cent (Burt) :4 44 per cent Borstal and Detention Centre Groups and 9 per cent (Douglas) for the normal population.)

When those Shaw girls whose parents were apart because of illegitimacy are included, the two percentages for prolonged parental absences are 60 and 65; 40 per cent of the 500 group and 35 per cent of the 100 group lived with both parents through the years leading up to their Court appearances, or lived with them apart from many considerable absences of a parent for illness and other reasons, or many absences of a child for an even greater variety of causes.