Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 77.djvu/488

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

482

THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

CHILD STUDY

By Professor E. A. KIRKPATRICK

FITCHBURG, MASS.

THE sciences concerned with man and the conditions most favorable to his physical, mental and moral development have received a great deal of attention during the last quarter of a century and the results are most striking. It is found that there is tremendous waste of adult human life in preventable deaths and injuries caused by disease and accidents, and immense waste of human energy in idleness and misapplied effort, while morality is shown to depend to a much greater extent than was formerly supposed upon proper housing, feeding and recreative and social opportunities.

It has been demonstrated that the death rate of infants may easily be decreased one half by supplying pure milk to mothers together with directions and the help of nurses in caring for babies. Children are not only dying in entirely unnecessary numbers, but a great many are born defective or caused to become so by improper treatment, so that they must be cared for by the state, at enormous expense. It has also been clearly demonstrated that there is an immense waste of time and energy in the public schools, and that the output of efficient individuals is far below what it should be; also, that because of early employment, lack of play grounds and other causes great numbers are shut up in reform schools and jails, instead of being prepared for performing the duties of citizens.

Although the government has, as yet, done almost nothing in the way of scientific research along these lines, as compared with that which it has done in agriculture, yet enough has already been established by the investigations of private individuals, societies and universities to prove clearly that a large part of this destructive waste and perversion of human life, energy and effort can be prevented by means now known to be efficient.

There is good ground also for the belief that still further enormous saving may be effected after the complex facts of child and social life have been more thoroughly investigated. While the government appropriates millions for researches in agriculture and the diffusion of the results among the people, it was a hard task to get an appropriation of forty-five thousand dollars for human education. In the last congress a bill appropriating fifteen hundred dollars for child study was defeated, and immediately afterward, fifteen thousand was appropriated for