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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/223

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EDUCATION AND CRIME.

ing for some unpleasant detail, some crude idea. Nothing could be less proper; no building, no matter what its form, should be condemned until we know its purpose, and whether it fills it or not. The very fact that it is necessary to speak of "knowing the purpose" of a building shows how thoroughly the art has degenerated.

 

EDUCATION AND CRIME.
By Rev. A. W. GOULD.

IN the January number of The Popular Science Monthly there was an article by Benjamin Reece on Public Schools as affecting Crime and Vice. In that article Mr. Reece mentions the fact that "in the decade ending with 1880, population having increased thirty per cent and illiteracy only ten per cent, the number of criminals present the alarming increase of eighty-two per cent." And he asks: "Can it be possible that with greater educational facilities there is to be increased crime? Perish the thought! Yet if the instruction of our common schools subdues the tendency to crime, why is it that the ratio of prisoners, being one in every 3,442 in 1850, rose to one in every 1,647 in 1860, one in 1,021 in 1870, and one in 837 in 1880?" He tells us further that "the illiterates of the United States comprise seventeen per cent of the total population. . . . The general average of illiteracy is exceeded by every one of the original slave States with the exception of Missouri, but the average ratio of the mentally and morally unsound is only reached in the State of Maryland. South Carolina, which shows the highest percentage of illiterates, presents the lowest average of any State in the Union as regards insanity and crime"; and his conclusion is that "our condition of decreasing illiteracy and increasing crime" means that "in the adjustment of our schools we have gone too far in our aim for material advancement and development of wealth, and that we are correspondingly losing in the direction of moral growth and culture."

In other words, he thinks that the United States census proves that the increase of prisoners in our prisons is the result of the increase of pupils in our schools. And as I find that these "novel and threatening facts" have aroused some apprehension among those interested in our public-school system, it seems to me desirable that some one should point out the figures in our census which seriously modify, if not wholly destroy, Mr. Reece's alarming inference that our public schools are nurseries of crime.

Figures, like Bible-texts, may not lie, but they can be made to prove almost anything; and it would not be difficult to establish, by our census figures, the exact opposite of Mr. Reece's conclu-