|THE OHIO PLAN FOR THE STUDY OF DELINQUENCY|
BUREAU OF JUVENILE RESEARCH, COLUMBUS, OHIO
BY the careful study of the problems of human heredity in the last few years, eugenic workers have brought about a more general appreciation of the tremendous burden and waste brought about by the propagation of misfits. It is generally accepted that the principles of breeding, which hold for Guernsey cattle and navel oranges, hold also for human beings—that social misfits reproduce their defects quite as certainly as do long-haired guinea-pigs and corn grains, rich in starch content, reproduce their respective qualities. Mendel's Law is valid for all living forms. Furthermore, high-grade defectives are very prolific. Restraints, which affect the numbers of children borne by normal mothers, have no effect upon the amount of progeny of the feeble-minded, so they tend to reproduce much faster than the normal persons around them. It is therefore self-evident that society must impose artificial restraints, for its own safeguarding.
1. The first suggestion, which occurs to every one, is to segregate the misfit and thus prevent propagation. With the estimates of the numbers of defectives, it is quite impossible to provide asylums, schools and custodial farms for all defectives. Such institutions as are provided by states and private munificence are everywhere overcrowded and holding long waiting lists, while normal children in the public schools are hindered in their education by the presence in their classes of feeble-minded children. It is much too great a burden for society to undertake the lifelong segregation of all the feeble-minded. Furthermore, it is not an intelligent procedure, until we are better informed as to different sorts of defect, and their respective viabilities in the stocks.
2. Again, sterilization has been proposed as a panacea for this social ill—the threatened enormous increase of the feeble-minded. But this is by no means a solution of the problem. Sterilization would certainly stop the breeding of the sterilized, but the consequences of known immunity from conception through salpingectomy of the female or vasectomy of the male, would lead to much increase of immorality and spread of venereal diseases. Such operations do not remove sex feelings for a considerable period of time.
Twelve states have passed sterilization acts. Seven of these specifically provided for the sterilization of the mentally defective; three others, of inmates of state hospitals, reformatories and prisons; and two, of habitual criminals and persons guilty of abuse of girls under ten