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Girl Problem Grows – Richmond Times-Dispatch, February 5, 1913. Juvenile Court and Juvenile Protective Society, Richmond, VA



Disorderly Conduct with 182 Offenders, Constituted Largest Single Class.


Regarded by Juvenile Protective Society as Its Most Difficult Task 


In a memorial, just from the press in pamphlet form, the Juvenile Protective Society of Virginia sums up for convenient reference the work accomplished by the juvenile division of the City Police Court in the first nine months of its life, covering the period between April 2 and December 31, 1912. The memorial is addressed to the City Council in support of a plea for an appropriation of $7,500, with which to continue the work of the court in the coming year.

It appears from the report, which is signed by Rev. H. D. C. MacLachlan, president of the Juvenile Protective Society of Virginia, that the Juvenile Court in the first nine months of its operation handled 410 cases of juvenile delinquency, divided as to sex and color as follows: White boys, 187; white girls, 30; negro boys, 192; negro girls, 60.

Of the 410 cases, 182 fall under the general head, disorderly conduct. The term includes fighting, shooting crap, throwing rocks and similar offenses. Assault and battery furnished 50 cases; larceny, 111:  housebreaking, seventeen, and violations of city ordinances, twenty-one. Twenty-eight cases are classified as offenses against morality.

Mode of Disposition 

The report calls particular attention to the large number of cases to which corrective punishment has been applied. Of sixty-two children that were committed, fourteen were assigned to the Prison Association of Virginia, ten to the Negro Reformatory Association, twenty to the State Board of Charities and Corrections, ten to the Virginia Home and Industrial School for Girls and eight to the Juvenile Protective Society.

Among other dispositions were: probationed 10[0?]; fined, 17; whipped by parents or guardian, 38; discharged with warning, 90; dismissed, 90. and turned over to parents or guardians, 40.

Attention is directed to the fact that of 109 children placed on probation, ninety-one have not since appeader [appeared] in court. Such a record, it is submitted is proof of the wisdom of dealing with youthful offenders in the humane way encouraged by the association.

The Young Girl Problem

A special division of the report is reported to the work of the Juvenile Court in caring for young girls who have been guilty of offenses against morality. This phase of the work, it is stated, constitutes the courts biggest and most difficult problem. To quote:

“Almost every day the police are confronted with the problem of what to do with the young girls who parade Broad Street and frequent the moving picture shows. They flirt with the so-called ‘mashers’ and ‘strike up’ acquaintance with strangers and commit other acts of indiscretion.”

For aid in solving this particular problem, the report returns thanks to the good work of the Girl’s Auxiliary of the Instructive Visiting Nurses’ Association, and to the services performed by Miss Sarah B. Roller, as Richmond’s first woman probation officer.

Asks for Appropriation 

The memorial concludes with an appeal to the City Council for an appropriation adequate to meet the growing needs of the Juvenile Court. In support of their plea the members of the Juvenile Protective Society of Virginia offer the following reasons:

“(1) We wish to give every child in Richmond a chance to be tried for the offense with which he is charged without the publicity of a formal court hearing and its inevitable stigma.

“(2) We wish to continue a system which will give a child the chance to reform under probation without being sent to jail.

“(3) We wish facilities which will enable us to take children from bad home surroundings and place them where they will be well cared for and educated to useful citizenship.

“(4) We wish adequate means to save from lives of shame young girls who, unless cared for, will inevitably lead such lives.

“(5) We wish to end the disgrace of confining in jail children who may be permanently ruined by contact with hardened criminals.

“The children of today are the citizens of tomorrow. They will be precisely what we make them, and will show the effects in maturity of the treatment they receive now. Mercy will be rewarded with manhood and injustice with crime.”


Source: (1913 February 5). Richmond Times-Dispatch., p. 7.

Note: The memorial mentioned in this newspaper article is an eight-page pamphlet: “Memorial to the honorable council of the city of Richmond in behalf of the erring children of the city aided by the juvenile division of the police court. Presented to the council by the Juvenile protective society of Virginia.” In legal terminology, a memorial is a document presented to a legislative body by one or more individuals, containing a petition or a representation of facts.

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