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JUVENILES ON OUR DOORSTEP

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

Although the decision of Phillips Brooks House to undertake child welfare work round and about Harvard is gratifying, that body will do well to supplement rather than compete with welfare bodies already at work among underprivileged children. If a careful study is made, it will be clear that much is now being done. Indeed, perhaps the most valuable service P. B. H. could render would be in persuading the University to open unused land as playing fields.

There is little real need for social service workers as such. The City of Cambridge is able and anxious to supervise youngsters in their idle hours. The Recreation Division, a branch of the Cambridge Park Department under the direction of Mr. Stephen H. Mahoney, was set up several years ago for this very purpose. Playgrounds have been appropriated, equipped with field-houses and outdoor apparatus, and manned with experienced workers. Two of these fields--the Robert E. Hoyt and the Corporal Burns--are in the immediate vicinity of Harvard.

Mr. Mahoney has made every effort to encourage indoor and outdoor athletics and arrange for inter-playground competition. For example, he has organized 64 basketball teams and arranged 393 games for them this winter. If many children still ignore these facilities, it is possibly because fields are lacking in their neighborhood and great traffic arteries, such as Massachusetts Avene, prevent their going far afield. P. B. H. men could act as recruiting officers, rounding up youngsters and convoying them to the grounds, but any children they attempted to care for privately would be deprived of the city-wide playground program.

Yet there is another equality important frame-work in which workers are not only welcome, but sorely needed: the Boy Scout enrollment for Cambridge is half what it should be because of the lack of capable leaders. The troops now in existence are part of Cambridge parishes, since despite the non-sectarian nature of the organization, it is felt that children need more fundamental training than the art of making fires without matches. Yet there is room in every church for additional troops if leaders can be found. It is the hope of Mr. J. W. Clements, Cambridge Scout executive, that P. B. H. can be persuaded to work in cooperation with his body of leaders, since this is the chief field in which volunteer workers can be of service to the community.

Just as important as competent leaders, however, are fields and buildings in which to organize these youngsters. It is here that Harvard should assume moral obligations and help hundreds of urchins who will never be privileged to use its libraries and laboratories. Mr. Mahoney's Recreation Division is empowered by law to supply workers to private playgrounds with the sanction of the owner. A step in this direction was made last week when the University allowed a worker to superintend the winter sports on the ground around the Observatory. But this was a trifling concession. Since Harvard closed the Divinity School grounds some years ago, the firm of John P. Squire & Co. has far surpassed it in opening lands to local children.

The youngsters who light fires, break windows, and raise Cain generally are not inherently wicked, but merely at a loss for something better to do. Their energies, which in many cases are leading them to lives of crime or indolence, could be directed into constructive channels if means were provided. If the University shows more concern in the fate of these urchins, if P. B. H. continues to remember where charity begins, undergraduates may have fewer pangs of conscience when they walk from Dunster or Eliot to the Yard.

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