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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/553

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549
THE WASTE OF CHILDREN

THE WASTE OF CHILDREN
By Dr. Geo. B. MANGOLD

UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA

LESS than two hundred years ago not more than one fourth of the children born in London ever reached their fifth year of life. The rest were ruthlessly swept aside and died without adding a single iota to the sum of human service. It is a matter of utmost importance to know under what conditions an advance in population is secured. The beginnings of national life in Europe were accompanied by energetic efforts to augment the number of each national group. Necessarily the strength of a nation depended largely upon the size of its population. Despite these efforts, the practical results were lost in the many adverse circumstances which operated to neutralize their effects. A comparatively slow increase of the population of nearly every European country before the last quarter of the eighteenth century was the natural result. Every civilization, however, whether old or new, has purchased progress at considerable cost. Lives, property and happiness have been sacrificed to attain this coveted goal. Civilization spells economy. It means a fuller utilization of our powers, faculties, and our mental and physical equipment, no less than a more capable use of the productive forces of nature. The more primitive a society, the more immediate and absolute is its subjection to environment. From this thraldom civilization is gradually releasing us, and to-day we stand partly above our environment and in a measure mold it by determining its character, and forcing its adaptation to our peculiarities in addition to our own increasing adaptability to its changing conditions.

Probably in no other field of human activity has man's former ignorance been more lamentable in its consequences than in that of rearing children—the future parents of the race. Even the slow increase of savage tribes is purchased at a tremendous expenditure of energy, and the number of infants and little children whose physical and economic cost is never compensated for by useful and productive lives has been appalling. A recent investigation of the Bontoc Igorrote in the Philippines indicates a mortality of 60 per cent, before the age of puberty is reached. Such people have risen but little above their natural environment and are quite subject to its rigors and destroying processes. Decreasing cost characterizes advancing civilization, yet throughout the eighteenth century the European population, being