Mental Defectives and Sexual Offenders
by W. H. Triggs, Donald McGavin, Frederick Truby King, J. Sands Elliot, Ada G. Patterson, C.E. Matthews
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Laid on the Table of the House of Representatives by Leave.

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HON. W. H. TRIGGS, M.L.C., Chairman.

SIR DONALD MCGAVIN, Kt., C.M.G., D.S.O., M.D. (Lond.), F.R.C.S. (Eng.), Director-General of Medical Services, Defence Department.

SIR FREDERICK TRUBY KING, Kt., C.M.G., M.B., B.Sc. (Public Health) (Edin.), Director Division of Child Welfare, Department of Health.

J. SANDS ELLIOTT, Esq., M.D., Bac. Surg. (Edin.), Chairman of the Council of the N.Z. Branch of the British Medical Association.

MISS ADA G. PATERSON, M.B., Ch.B. (N.Z.), L.M. (Dublin), Director Division of School Hygiene, Department of Health.

C. E. MATTHEWS, Esq., Under-Secretary for Justice and Controller-General of Prisons, &c.

J. BECK, Esq., Officer in Charge Special Schools Branch, Education Department.

Secretary: J. W. BUCHANAN, Esq.

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Section 1.—Origin and Scope of Inquiry: Mental Deficiency, Increase of; North Canterbury Hospital Board and others suggest Inquiry; Committee, Personnel; Nature of Inquiry; Places visited and inspected; Sittings, Date and Place of; Witnesses examined, and Work done; Appreciation of Services rendered; Value of Memoranda supplied by Sir George Newman, Secretary of State for the United States, Dr. E. S. Morris (Tasmania), Dr. Helen MacMurchy (Ottawa), and Dr. Eric Clarke (Toronto); Secretarial Services 2

Section 2.—Two Distinct Questions: Mental Defectives and Sexual Perverts, Comments on 5


Section 1.—A Menace to Modern Civilization: Feeble-minded, Danger of Unrestricted Multiplication; Lothrop Stoddart's Views; American Army, Psychological Test of; Results and Deductions 5

Section 2.—Heredity v. Environment: Genetics and Heredity; Heredity and Environment, Aspects reviewed; Degenerate Families, Life-histories; Dr. Macgregor, Deductions from his Report; Degenerate Stocks imported, Effect of; Environmental Factor, Importance of; Pre-natal and Post-natal Care, Value of; Housing Problem; Relationship of Impaired Nutrition, Debility, and Disease to Impaired Control; Dietetics and Child Welfare; Picture-shows, Effect on Children, and Recommendations; Venereal Disease Committees' Report as to Effect of Syphilis, &c.; Director Division of School Hygiene, Attention drawn to Report; Excessive Competition, Effect on School-children 6

Section 3.—Illustrative Cases of Hereditary Degeneracy: Juke Family; Kallikak Family; New Zealand Cases cited; Sir Robert Stout's Comments 7

Section 4.—Elements of the Problem: Basic Phases, Registration, Educational Care and Training of Feeble-minded Children, Oversight and Supervision; Educational Curriculum for various Groups; Residential Schools; Farm and Industrial Colonies for Segregation 11

Section 5.—Estimates as to Numbers of Mental Defectives: Education Department Returns; Retardation, Problem of; Feeble-minded and Epileptic Cases, Return showing 12

Section 6.—Study of Feeble-minded and Delinquent Children: Methods employed in other Countries; United States of America; New Zealand; Need of Psychological Experts; Tredgold, Quotation from 14

Section 7.—Method of dealing with Mental Defectives in New Zealand—Present Legal Provision for Notification and Education of Feeble-minded Children and for Care of Custodial Feeble-minded Adults and Children: Education Act, 1914; Provision of; "Feeble-minded," Definition of; Mental Defectives Act, 1911; English Mental Deficiency Act; Public Schools, Special Classes; Epileptic Children, Education of; Otekaike and Richmond Special Schools; Nature of Institutions and Training, with Suggestions; Caversham Industrial School; Weraroa Boys' Training-farm; Committal, Nature of; Value of Home Life in Comparison with Institutional 14

Section 8.—Children's Courts: Committee's Recommendations; Clinics for Physical and Psychological Examination 17

Section 9.—Policy for the Future: Notification; English Commission, 1908, Basic Principles laid down; Register of Feeble-minded; Eugenics Board; Dr. Gray's Suggestions; Psychiatrists, Suggested Appointment; Eugenic Board, Proposed Duties and Powers; Departments to control Feeble-minded; Marriage and Carnal Knowledge with Feeble-minded; Parents' and Guardians' Responsibilities 17

Section 10.—The Question of Sterilization: Operations, Nature of; X-rays, Use of; American Laws; Dr. H. Laughlin, Chicago, Views; Central Association for Mental Welfare of Great Britain, Opinion on Sterilization; Evidence in support of Sterilization; Committee's Opinion and Recommendation; Eugenic Board's Powers 19

Section 11.—Segregation 21

Section 12.—The Question of Expense: Cost to State for Want of Supervision, Case cited; Humanitarian and National Aspects 21

Section 13.—Immigration: Introduction of Feeble-minded and Undesirables from Overseas; Medical Inspection of Intending Immigrants; System in Force; Committee's Suggestions; Ordinary Passengers from Overseas, Medical Supervision of; "Prohibited Immigrants," Definition of 22

Section 14.—Summary of Findings and Recommendations 23


Section 1.—Scope and Origin of the Inquiry: Prisons Board, Resolution passed; Medical and Surgical Reports; Indeterminate Sentence; Segregation 24

Section 2.—Seriousness of the Evil: Sexual Offenders, Numbers serving Sentence; Government Statistician's Return of Persons sentenced 25

Section 3.—Types of Offences: Sexual Offences; Various Classes, with Comments on; Types found in Prisons; Inspector of Prisons' Opinion; Sexual Perverts, Cure of 25

Section 4.—Suggested Remedies: Corporal Punishment; Inspector-General of Mental Hospitals' Recommendations; Sterilization and Desexualization; Castration; Sterilization; British Medical Association, N.Z., Motion passed; Vasectomy and Castration; Committee's Recommendation 26

Section 5.—Scientific Treatment and Segregation with Indeterminate Sentence: Medical Examination; Indeterminate Sentence; Women and Children, Protection of; Mr. Hawkins's Evidence on Control of Sexual Perverts 27

Section 6.—Summary of Recommendations: Crimes Act; Prisons Board, Powers of; Psychiatrist, Appointment and Duties; Eugenic Board, Power to advise Prisons Board; Sterilization; Concluding Remarks 27

APPENDIX.—Past Mistakes in Immigration: Extract from Report on Hospitals and Charitable Institutions of the Colony, 1888, by the late Dr. Macgregor, Inspector-General. The Health of School Children: Extract from the Report of the Director of the Division of School Hygiene, 1924. Return showing Sexual Offenders serving Sentence in New Zealand Prisons, 1924. Table showing the Number of Sexual Offenders sentenced under respective Headings in New Zealand Prisons. Some Illustrative Histories 29

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The Hon. the Minister of Health, Wellington.


The Committee of Inquiry into Mental Defectives and Sexual Offenders appointed by you to inquire into and report upon the necessity for special care and treatment of mental defectives and sexual offenders in New Zealand have the honour to submit herewith their report.



For a considerable time there has been a growing feeling of anxiety among the public owing to the number of mental defectives becoming a charge upon the State, and also the alarming increase in their numbers through the uncontrolled fecundity of this class. Furthermore, owing to the frequency of sexual offences, many of a most revolting character, there was a strong demand that some action should be taken to prevent further acts of this nature; it being suggested that the law should be altered to make it possible for surgical operations to be performed upon these offenders.

The North Canterbury Hospital Board considered the need for action in this matter so great that they set up a Committee to go into the question and take evidence, which was done, and various recommendations were made to the Government.

A perusal of departmental files reveals that many persons and social bodies have urged upon the Government the desirability of setting up a Committee or Commission of Inquiry to go into this subject.

The Minister of Health duly considered the representations made, and appointed the following Committee to inquire into the question:—

The Hon. W. H. Triggs, M.L.C. (Chairman). Sir Donald McGavin, Kt., C.M.G., D.S.O., M.D. (Lond.), F.R.C.S. (Eng.). Sir F. Truby King, Kt., C.M.G., M.B., B.Sc. (Public Health) (Edin.). J. Sands Elliott, Esq., M.D., Bac. Surg. (Edin.), Chairman of the Council of the British Medical Association (New Zealand Branch). Miss Ada G. Paterson, M.B., Ch.B. (N.Z.), L.M. (Dublin). C. E. Matthews, Esq., Under-Secretary for Justice and Controller-General of Prisons, &c. J. Beck, Esq., Officer in Charge, Special Schools Branch, Education Department.

The function and duty laid upon the Committee was as follows:—

(1.) To inquire and report as to the necessity for special care and treatment of the feeble-minded and subnormal, and to propose the general means by which such care and treatment, if any, should be provided.

(2.) To inquire and report as to the necessity for the treatment of mental degenerates and persons charged with sexual offences, and to recommend forms of treatment for the various types of cases.

The Minister of Health expressed his desire that the Committee should hear such evidence and representations on the above-mentioned matters as might be necessary fully to inform the Committee on the questions referred to it, and further suggested to the Committee that the various organizations and persons likely to be interested should be notified that the Committee would, at a certain place and date, hear any evidence they might desire to tender.

The following places were visited and inspected by the Committee: The Myers Special School, Auckland; the Waikeria Prison Reformatory; the Tokanui Mental Hospital, Waikeria; the New Plymouth Prison; the Boys' Training-farm, Weraroa; the Point Halswell Reformatory for Women, Wellington; the Special School for Girls, Richmond, Nelson; the Mental Hospital, Nelson; the Mental Hospital, Stoke, Nelson; the Te Oranga Home, Burwood, Christchurch; the Paparua Prison, Templeton; the Special School for Boys, Otekaike; the Caversham Industrial Home for Girls, Dunedin; the Borstal Institution, Invercargill.

Sittings were held at various centres in New Zealand, and a large number of witnesses were examined, as shown in the following table:—

- Places and Dates of Sittings. Witnesses examined or Work done. - Wellington, 23rd May, Preliminary meeting. 1924. (Forenoon only) Wellington, 30th May, Dr. Clark, School Medical Officer, Napier. 1924. (Forenoon only) Mr. J. Caughley, M.A., Director of Education. Professor J. Tennant, Professor of Education, Victoria College. Wellington, 2nd June, Mr. N. R. McKenzie, Inspector of Schools, 1924. (Forenoon only) Education Department. Miss N. Valentine, Education Department. Miss Barlow, Education Department. Dr. Elizabeth Gunn, School Medical Officer, Wanganui. Wellington, 4th June, Mrs. McHugh, Health Patrol, Wellington. 1924. (Afternoon only) Father McGrath, representing His Grace the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church. Mr. T. P. Mills, Superintendent, Presbyterian Orphanage and Probation Officer. Dr. Jeffreys, Medical Superintendent, Porirua Mental Hospital. Auckland, 11th June, Dr. Hilda Northcroft } Representing the 1924. Dr. Kenneth MacKenzie } British Medical Dr. E. Roberton } Association, } Auckland Branch. Dr. Mildred Staley. Dr. J. R. Macredy, School Medical Officer, Auckland. Canon F. W. Young, Council of Christian Churches, Auckland. Dr. Fitt, Professor of Education, Auckland University. Mrs. Nicoll. Mrs. Watson. Auckland, 12th June, Dr. Milsom, representing the British Medical 1924. Association, Auckland Branch. Professor Anderson, Professor of Moral and Mental Philosophy, Auckland University. Mr. J. Cupit, Juvenile Probation Officer. Mr. W. E. A. Gibbs. Professor Sperrin-Johnson, Professor of Biology, Auckland University. Mr. H. Binstead, Lecturer on Psychology, Training School, Auckland. Rev. Jasper Calder. Mr. W. S. J. Dales. Dr. Wilkie, School Medical Officer, Auckland. Auckland, 13th June, Sister Hannah, representing the National 1924. Council of Women. Miss M. Girdler, St. Mary's Home, Otahuhu. Mr. C. W. Carter. Rev. T. K. Jeffreys, Presbyterian Social Service Association. Mr. J. W. Poynton, S.M. Mr. N. Law, Headmaster, Normal School. Dr. Beattie, Medical Superintendent, Auckland Mental Hospital. Dr. D. N. Murray, Prison Medical Officer. Visit of Inspection to the Myers Special School, Queen Street, Auckland. Hamilton, 14th June, Dr. Douglas. 1924. Dr. F. S. Pinfold. Mr. Phillip Goodwin, Juvenile Probation Officer. Waikeria Reformatory, Dr. H. L. Gribben, Superintendent, Waikeria 15th June, 1924. Reformatory, and Medical Superintendent of the Tokanui Mental Hospital. Dr. MacPherson, Tokanui Mental Hospital. Visit of inspection paid to Waikeria Reformatory and Tokanui Mental Hospital. New Plymouth, Miss Tootell, Boarding-out Officer, Wanganui. 25th June, 1924. Dr. R. C. Brewster, Gaol Surgeon, New Plymouth. Mr. E. T. Holden, Secretary, New Plymouth Hospital Board. Visit paid to New Plymouth Prison. Otekaike, 2nd July, Miss Wylie, Head Teacher of Special School. 1924. Mr. William Meikleham, Manager of Special School. Visit paid to Special School for Boys and Farm at Otekaike. Dunedin, 3rd July, Mrs. Joan Murray, representing Society for 1924. Protection of Women and Children. Dr. E. Irwin, School Medical Officer. Mr. J. Lock, Juvenile Probation Officer. Dr. A. M. McKillop, Superintendent, Mental Hospital, Seacliff. Dr. A. R. Falconer, Medical Superintendent, Dunedin Hospital. Mr. G. M. Galloway, representing the Society for Protection of Women and Children. Invercargill, 4th July, Mr. M. Hawkins, Inspector of the Prisons 1924. Department and Superintendent of the Borstal Institution. Mr. McCarroll, Juvenile Probation Officer, Education Department. Mr. Pryde, Secretary of the Hospital Board. Mr. McLean, Hon. Secretary of the Prisoners Aid Society. Visit of inspection paid to Borstal Institution and Farm. Dunedin, 5th July, 1924. Visit of inspection paid to Caversham Industrial School for Girls. Dunedin, 7th July, 1924. Dr. Marshall McDonald } Representing the Dr. Kenneth Ross } British Medical } Association, } Dunedin Branch. Miss Ralston, Inspector of Industrial and Special Schools. Dr. Stuart Moore. Mr. A. M. Paterson. Christchurch, 9th July, Dr. F. V. Bevan-Brown, representing the 1924. British Medical Association, Christchurch Branch. Dr. C. L. Nedwill, Prison Medical Officer. Miss Cardale, representing the National Council of Women. Dr. A. C. Thomson, representing the British Medical Association. Rev. P. Revell, Secretary, Prison Gate Mission. Mrs. Herbert. Miss Hunt, Superintendent, Addington Reformatory. Mr. J. A. Blank, Attendance Officer, Education Department. Miss Baughan, Official Visitor to the Addington Reformatory. Christchurch, 10th July, Dr. Crosbie, Medical Superintendent, 1924. Mental Hospital. Dr. Levinge. Mr. Gumming, Juvenile Probation Officer, Timaru. Mr. William Reece, member of the Prisons Board. Professor Chilton, Professor of Biology, Canterbury College. Mr. C. T. Aschman, Headmaster, Normal School. Miss Howlett, representing the National Council of Women and Women's Christian Temperance Union. Miss Edwards, Manager of the Receiving Home, Christchurch. The Hon. G. W. Russell. Visit of inspection paid to Te Oranga Home, Burwood. Christchurch, 11th July, Dr. Phillipps, School Medical Officer. 1924. Professor Shelley, Professor of Education, Canterbury College. Mr. A. Bissett, Juvenile Probation Officer, Christchurch. Visit of inspection paid to Paparua Prison, Templeton. Wellington, 15th July, Colonel Bray, Secretary, Men's Department, 1924. (Forenoon only) Social Service Work, Salvation Army. Canon T. Feilden Taylor, Social Service Department of Church of England. Professor Kirk, Professor of Biology, Victoria College. Mr. F. S. Shell, Juvenile Probation Officer. Wellington, 16th July, Dr. E. Fenwick, representing the British 1924. (Forenoon only) Medical Association, Wellington Branch. Mrs. Brigadier Glover, Salvation Army Prison Officer and Probation Officer. Miss Jean Begg. Mr. R. W. Bligh, White Cross League representative. Wellington, 24th July, Visit of inspection to Point Halswell 1924. Reformatory, Wellington. Levin, 5th August, 1924. Visit of inspection to Boys' Training Farm, Weraroa. Nelson, 22nd August, Dr. Gray, Superintendent, Mental Hospital, 1924. Nelson. Visit of inspection to Special School for Girls, Richmond. Visit of inspection to Mental Hospital, Stoke. Visit of inspection to Mental Hospital, Nelson. Wellington, 9th Consideration of report. September, 1924. (Forenoon only) 12th September, 1924. " 15th September, 1924. " (Afternoon only) 16th September, 1924. " (Afternoon only) 22nd September, 1924. " (Afternoon only) 6th October, 1924. " (Forenoon only) 13th October, 1924. " (Forenoon only) 22nd October, 1924. " (Forenoon only) 24th October, 1924. " 28th October, 1924. " (Forenoon only) 29th October, 1924. " (Forenoon only) 5th November, 1924. " (Forenoon only)

It will thus be seen that, apart from time spent in travelling, the Committee have met on thirty-five days and have heard ninety-two witnesses in person.

The Committee would like to express their thanks to the witnesses, many of whom went to considerable trouble to collect information and prepare evidence. They are especially grateful to the British Medical Association for its willing co-operation and assistance; to the large number of members of the medical profession throughout the Dominion who responded to the Committee's request for information; to the authorities overseas for their response to requests for information; and to many other persons who by means of correspondence and literature have placed at the Committee's disposal a large amount of information which has been of material assistance in the investigation; also to the various Hospital Boards throughout the Dominion who so willingly placed their Boardrooms at the disposal of the Committee.

Sir George Newman, the Chief Medical Officer of the Board of Education and the Ministry of Health, England, very courteously supplied the Committee with a valuable memorandum on the care of mental defectives in England and Wales, while the Secretary of State for the United States, through the good offices of the American Consul-General, Mr. Edwin N. Gunsaulus, kindly forwarded information supplied by the United States Public Health Service regarding the legislation and regulations in force in various States where sterilization for eugenical purposes has been legalized.

Information of great value and interest has also been received from Dr. E. S. Morris, Director of Health, Tasmania; from Dr. Helen MacMurchy, Department of Health, Ottawa; and from Dr. Eric Clarke, Toronto, Assistant Medical Director, Canadian National Conference for Mental Hygiene.

The Committee further wish to make special mention of the services rendered by the Secretary, Mr. J. W. Buchanan, whose work has been very heavy owing to the number of witnesses examined and the extent of ground covered in a comparatively short time. This would not have been possible but for the complete arrangements made by Mr. Buchanan, and the ability and energy which he showed generally in the discharge of his duties left nothing to be desired.


Before proceeding to the subject-matter of the Committee's investigations and the conclusions arrived at it is necessary to point out as clearly and emphatically as possible that the questions submitted to the Committee were entirely separate and distinct from each other. It is true that a certain proportion of mental defectives show their lack of self-control in regard to sex instincts and functions as in other respects. This is particularly the case with mentally defective girls, and constitutes one of the chief difficulties in dealing with them satisfactorily. Some of this class find their way into prison on account of sexual offences, but it is very far from correct to suppose that all feeble-minded persons are sexual offenders, or that all sexual offenders are mentally defective. On the contrary, among sexual offenders of the worst type, those convicted of unnatural offences, are occasionally found to be persons possessing intellectual and artistic powers above the average. There is something wrong in their mental, moral, and emotional balance, as will be pointed out in the proper place, but, as a rule, it is not the "intelligence quotient" which is at fault.



The Committee are of opinion that the unrestricted multiplication of feeble-minded members of the community is a most serious menace to the future welfare and happiness of the Dominion, and it is of the utmost importance that some means of meeting the peril should be adopted without delay. The position is the more serious because, while the feeble-minded are extraordinarily prolific, there is a growing tendency among the more intellectual classes for the birth-rate to become restricted.

An American writer, Lothrop Stoddart, in his striking book entitled "Revolt against Civilization," expresses the fear that the very foundations of civilization are being undermined. He finds reasons for great pessimism as regards the future in the results of the intelligence tests taken in the American Army during the war.

The American War Department made psychological tests of 1,700,000 officers and men, who were graded as follows:—

Grade. Percentage. Mental Age.

A 41/2 18-19 Very superior intelligence. B 9 16-17 Superior intelligence. C1 161/2 15 Average intelligence. (Rarely capable of finishing high-school course.) C— 25 13-14 Low average intelligence. D 15 11 Inferior intelligence. D— 10 10 Very inferior intelligence.

Assuming that these 1,700,000 men are a fair sample of the entire population of 100,000,000 (and Stoddart says there is every reason to believe that it is a fair sample), this means that the average mental age of Americans is only about fourteen; that 45,000,000, or nearly one-half of the whole population, will never develop mental capacity beyond the stage represented by a normal twelve-year-old child; that only 13,500,000 will ever show superior intelligence; and that only 4,500,000 can be considered "talented." "Still more alarming," the author continues, "is the prospect of the future. The overwhelming weight of evidence indicates that the A and B elements in America are barely reproducing themselves, while the other elements are increasing at rates proportionate to their decreasing intellectual capacity; in other words, that intelligence is to-day being steadily bred out of the American population."

The biologist Davenport calculated that at present rates of reproduction 1,000 Harvard graduates of to-day would have only fifty descendants two centuries hence, whereas 1,000 Roumanians to-day in Boston, at their present rate of breeding, would have 100,000 descendants in the same space of time.

Mr. Lothrop Stoddart emphatically scouts the view which is occasionally put forward to the effect that genius is a form of insanity, and that therefore one ought to be careful about discouraging the marriage even of epileptics and mentally unbalanced persons for fear a possible Napoleon or Julius Caesar or Beethoven should be lost to the world. "Careful scientific investigation," he says, "has clearly disproved this notion. For one thing, elaborate statistical studies of eminent persons have shown them to be less liable to insanity than the general population. Of course, a considerable number of eminent men can be listed who unquestionably suffered from various neuropathic traits. But it was not those traits that made them eminent; on the contrary, these were handicaps. Somewhere back in their ancestry a taint was introduced into a sound superior strain, and produced this disharmonic combination of qualities."


The Committee feel bound to refer to the great strides made during the last half-century towards establishing laws and theories of genetics and heredity. Unfortunately, terms such as the "integrity of the germ plasm" and "the Mendelian law," while marking great advances in biological thought and science, have become too much associated in the public mind with a depressing and fatalistic notion that heredity determines everything and that environment can play but a very insignificant part in human evolution, development, and progress—physical, mental, or moral. Such, of course, is not the case.

In ultimate origin all evolution and all heredity are the outcome, summation, and expression of the effects of environmental influences, acting on the whole organism under certain laws of transmission. The laws of heredity, though as yet only partially determined, are already sufficiently ascertained to prove for practical purposes that, in order to promote integration and further progress in human evolution—not disintegration and degeneration—two things are essential and complementary. On the one hand, we must do everything possible in the direction of improving the nutrition, health, conditions of life, and habits of the community; and, on the other hand, we must promote and encourage parenthood on the part of the best and stablest stocks, and do everything in our power to discourage, or in the extreme cases even to prevent, proliferation of unfit and degenerate strains.

For the purpose of the present inquiry we need merely state as a practical preliminary regarding heredity that it has been proved beyond question that if two feeble-minded persons marry they will most probably produce abundant offspring, of whom all may be subnormal, and a large proportion will become a burden on the State; and that if one such person is mated with a healthy individual an undue proportion of their children are likely to prove degenerate or defective, and the unsoundness will continue to make its appearance in succeeding generations.

While local evidence confirmatory of this came before the Committee, first place will be given to certain classic and exhaustive investigations and life-histories of degenerate families, going back many generations, such as no young country could possibly supply. However, the forcible and far-sighted report of the late Dr. Duncan Macgregor (originally Professor of Mental Science at Otago University, and subsequently Inspector-General of Asylums, Hospitals, and Charitable Aid), quoted in the Appendix, shows clearly that some very degenerate stocks imported into this country under the active immigration policy of the "seventies" and "eighties" were already threatening, thirty-five years ago, to become a serious tax on the country, as well as tending to lower the high physical, mental, and moral standard established by the original pioneers and settlers.

We shall now revert for the moment to the environmental factor. The first most pressing and immediate practical duty of the Government and the community is to spare no pains to improve the status and environment of the family so as to promote the highest attainable standard of physical, mental, and moral health for the new generation—already in our midst or bound to arrive in the course of the next few years.

It is becoming more and more widely recognized that by due attention to the pre-natal and post-natal care of mother and child an infinity of good can be done—indeed, a great deal is already under way in this direction throughout the Dominion. But the Committee are satisfied that much more ought to be done to ensure for children of the pre-school and school ages more generally favourable home conditions, and healthier environment and habits outside the home.

In the meantime it is obvious that very little can be effected in the way of bettering the average heredity; but are we taking adequate measures in the direction of improving the environment of mother and child? The housing problem is still far from satisfactory; help in the home can scarcely be procured, and the rearing and care of children throughout the pre-school and school periods, in a large proportion of cases, is neither conducive to a high standard of nutrition, growth, and moral development, nor to the establishment of normal self-control, especially as regards sexual habits and manifestations. The Committee cannot ignore the fact that the leading medical and psychological authorities lay it down as an axiom that the power of self-control is at its highest when the individual is physically active, well-nourished, and in perfect bodily health, and that impaired control always accompanies impaired nutrition, debility, and disease. It has been said, with profound wisdom and insight, that ultimately and fundamentally reproduction should be regarded as essentially "an exuberant phase of nutrition"; and there is no escaping the wide implication of Schiller's aphorism that "Love and Hunger rule the World."

In view of these considerations the Committee feel compelled to refer to such serious handicaps to all-round health, control, and efficiency as the prevalence of wrong feeding habits—e.g., giving children food between meals and the insufficient provision of fresh fruit and vegetables in the daily diet and the abuse of sweets. Other prominent and avoidable handicaps, seriously affecting many children throughout the Dominion, which ought to receive more serious attention are insufficiency of sunlight and fresh air in the home and at school, insufficient daily outing and exercise, lack of adequate provision in the way of playgrounds and swimming-baths, and last, but not least, the highly injurious practice of frequenting "picture-shows."

As the Committee are called on to deal specially with the problem of increasing manifestations of sexual depravity they cannot pass by the fact that in the course of the last twenty years the younger members of the community have been spending a steadily increasing proportion of their time, during the most impressionable period of life, in what are liable to prove forcing-houses of sexual precocity and criminal tendencies. There is every reason for regarding the habit of "going to the pictures" without adequate restrictions as contributing seriously to precocious sexuality, and also to weakening the powers of inhibition and self-control in other directions—powers which are the distinctive attributes of the higher human being.

Alongside these considerations, the bodily harm done to the young by frequently spending their afternoons and evenings in hot, stuffy, overcrowded halls shrinks into insignificance, though serious enough in itself.

The Committee endorses the opinions expressed by Education authorities, and by practically every organization throughout the Dominion concerned with the welfare of children, upon the harmful effect of moving-picture shows as at present conducted. The Committee sympathizes with proposals for reform along the following lines:—

(1.) Stricter censorship, not only of films, but of picture posters, handbills, and advertisements.

(2.) Regulations as to the age of admission for children when unaccompanied by a responsible adult, and to such pictures as are not pronounced by the Censor as suitable for children.

(3.) Proper safeguards for the morals of children and young persons within picture-theatres, including adequate supervision of the premises.

The Committee desire it to be clearly understood that in this report they have not particularly dealt with mental disabilities resulting from diseases such as syphilis, or toxic influences such as alcohol, drugs, &c. These questions have already been covered to some extent by the Report of the Venereal Diseases Committee, and in any case would involve too wide a field of investigation for the present inquiry.

An authoritative summary taken from this year's report of the Director of the Division of School Hygiene is quoted in the Appendix as pointing out most of the faults and mistakes in environment and upbringing to which reference has been made, and because it draws special and much-needed attention to the injurious effects of overwork and excessive competition and the need for more sleep and rest.

We would merely add to this very clear, practical statement that encouragement of excessive competition, inside or outside the school, for any purpose whatsoever, is costly and damaging to the whole being, and that, in the opinion of the Committee, nothing needs to be impressed more strongly on parents and school-teachers than Froebel's injunction, "Give space and time and rest."


The Juke Family.

To show the close relationship existing between the criminal and the psychopath the record of the so-called Juke family in America was compiled by R. L. Dugdale.

The descendants of one morbid couple were traced through five generations. Whilst a small proportion were honest workers, the great majority were paupers, criminals, and prostitutes.

Of 540 Jukes practically one-fifth were born out of wedlock, 37 were known to be syphilitic, 53 had been in poorhouses, 76 had been sentenced to prison, and of 229 women of marriageable age 128 were prostitutes. The economic damage inflicted upon the State of New York by the Jukes in seventy-five years was estimated at more than $1,300,000, to say nothing of diseases and other evil influences which they helped to spread.

A more recent investigation shows that 2,820 people have been studied; 2,094 were of Juke blood and 726 of "X" blood married into the Juke family; of these, 366 were paupers, while 171 were criminals, and 10 lives have been sacrificed by murder. In school-work 62 did well, 288 did fairly, while 458 were retarded two or more years. It is known that 166 never attended school; the school data for the rest of the family were unobtainable. There were 282 intemperate and 277 harlots. The total cost to the State has been estimated at $2,093,685.

The Kallikak Family.

The history of the Kallikak family has been traced and fully described in detail by Dr. Goddard, and his study shows the hereditary nature and sociological bearings of feeble-mindedness.

Martin Kallikak was a youthful soldier in the Revolutionary War. At a tavern frequented by the militia he met a feeble-minded girl by whom he became the father of a feeble-minded son. In 1912 there were 480 known direct descendants of this temporary union. It is known that 36 of these were illegitimates; that 33 were sexually immoral; that 24 were confirmed alcoholics; and that 8 kept houses of ill-fame. The explanation of so much immorality will be obvious when it is stated that of the 480 descendants 143 were known to be feeble-minded, and that many of the others were of questionable mentality.

A few years after returning from the war this same Martin Kallikak married a respectable girl of good family. From this union 496 individuals have been traced in direct descent, and in this branch of the family there were no illegitimate children, no immoral women, and only one man who was sexually loose. There were no criminals, no keepers of houses of ill-fame, and only two confirmed alcoholics. Again the explanation is clear when it is stated that this branch of the family did not contain a single feeble-minded individual. It was made up of doctors, lawyers, judges, educators, traders, and landholders.

New Zealand Cases.

But it is not necessary to go to the records of older countries to find examples of this kind. Unfortunately, this young Dominion, whose history as a European settlement is comprised within the lifetime of its oldest inhabitants, is already reproducing some of the saddest problems of civilization which perplex the people of the Old World. We started with every advantage in the shape of a favourable climate and rich natural resources. The original settlers were, for the most part, men and women of sturdy determination, enterprising spirit, and strong physique.

In the "seventies" a vigorous public-works policy was inaugurated, and great efforts were made to introduce fresh population, the result being that undoubtedly a great impetus was given to settlement, and the country was fairly started on the road to prosperity. But, unfortunately, it is now only too apparent that insufficient care was taken in the selection of immigrants.

The following extract from a statement made to the Committee by Sir Robert Stout, Chief Justice, and President of the Prisons Board, illustrates this point: "The Prisons Board has sometimes brought before it several persons of one family who have offended against our laws, and in the experience I had in 1884 and 1885, when looking after our Hospitals and Charitable Aid Department in the General Government, I found that people obtaining charitable aid had done so for three generations; that is, grandfather, father or mother, and children were all obtaining aid from the Government because they were unable to maintain themselves. Some of the cases were traced, and it was found that the grandfathers, or grandparents, had been originally in poorhouses in the Homeland, and although they came to New Zealand and had greater opportunities than they had in their Homeland, yet their inability to provide for themselves continued."

How serious the problem has already become will be seen from the following illustrative cases selected from a large number given in the evidence:—

Case No. 1. Father: Mother: Weak-minded. Weak-minded. Female, born 1906. Female, born 1907. Female, born 1908. Female, born 1909. Female, born 1911. Male, born 1912. Male, born 1913. Male, born 1915. Female, born 1916.

All these children except one are feeble-minded, and when committed to the care of the State were found living under deplorable conditions. Most of these children will require lifelong control in an institution. The total cost of maintaining this family will be approximately L9,500. These children are cousins of another family under State control. There are four children, two of whom are simple-minded. The mother is feeble-minded, and the father died in a mental hospital. In this case the mothers of the children are sisters.

Case No. 2. Father: Mother: Feeble-minded. Feeble-minded and drunkard. - - Female, illegitimate, born 1902. - Male, born 1904. - Male, born 1906. - Male, born 1907. - Male, born 1910. - Male, born 1912. - Female, born 1914. - Female, born 1916. - Male, born 1918. - Male, born 1920. - Male, born 1923. -

All these children are feeble-minded and have been brought under State control shortly after birth. Some are now in mental hospitals and some in special schools. All these children are lifelong custodial cases. The cost to the State for maintenance is approximately L16,000, towards which amount the father has contributed but L6.

Case No. 3. Father: Mother: Old-age pensioner in Apparently weak mentally Home for Aged People. and morally at present in reformatory home. - - 1. Female. Female, Female, Male, All these children Prostitute born born born are illegitimate. residing with 1908. 1911. 1913. Reputed father a drunkard. drunkard and man of Male, bad character. born 1915. - - 2. Female. Male, Male, Female, All these children Prostitute and born born born are illegitimate. addicted to 1907. 1910. 1912. In most cases the drink. father is unknown. Male, Female, born 1914. born 1917. - - 3. Female. Male, Male, Both illegitimate. Immoral and born 1911. born 1912. Reputed fathers generally bad well-known bad character. characters. Inmate of private reformatory. - - 4. Female. Female, Female, Mother married a Indifferent, born born widower with three married 1908. 1912. children. There are criminal, now three more the in prison. Female, born 1916. result of marriage maintained by the State. - - 5. Female. Female, Female, All delicate Drunkard and born born neurotic types and married a 1898. 1900. difficult to drunkard manage. although man Female, Female, of good born 1902. born 1905. education. Female, born 1908. - - 6. Female. Male, born 1910. Well-known prostitute, married member of notorious criminal family, and himself criminal. - -

All these children, numbering twenty-one, were committed to the care of the State, in most cases shortly after birth. Twelve of the children are illegitimate. The husband of daughter No. 6 is also the father of one each of the offspring of daughters Nos. 2 and 3. Most of the children are delicate and poorly developed, and at least six of them are definitely tubercular. The remainder are either neurotic or erratic in their conduct and have given a great deal of trouble in their upbringing. The total cost to the State for the maintenance of these children may be quoted at L10,000, but of this amount L482 has been recovered from the various men liable. It is difficult to assess the State's total commitment. If some of the children have to be maintained until they reach the age of twenty-one the additional cost will be L3,000. There is the probability, too, that the offspring of these children will become charges upon the State.

Case No. 4. -+ Father: Mother: Addicted to drink Drunkard and and degenerate. morally deficient. + Female, born 1908. Male, born 1909. All these children are illegitimate Admitted special and are feeble-minded, requiring school, 1920. lifelong control. Three are now inmates of mental hospitals, and Female, in time the remainder of the born 1910. family at present in special schools will be sent on to mental Male, hospitals. born 1914. Male, born 1916. Female, born 1917. + Male, born 1918. All probably feeble-minded. + + Not yet brought under Male, State control. born 1920. + + Male, born 1923. +

An officer of the Education Department describes the home as "one of the dirtiest and most squalid homes I have seen." The cost (including past, present, and approximate future maintenance) to the State for the upkeep of this family is estimated at L10,000. Nothing has been paid by the parents towards the support of these children. In all probability, the remaining members of the family will be brought under State control at a probable cost of L4,500.

Case No. 5. Father: Mother: Drunken waster; Feeble-minded helpless subnormal; invalid. Died shortly frequently in gaol. after children committed to care of State. Male, born 1904. Tubercular. Partly self-supporting. Female, born 1907. Tubercular. Suffers from epileptic seizures. Inmate mental hospital. Lifelong custody. Male, born 1909. Subnormal. May in time become partly self-supporting under favourable conditions. Male, born 1911. Mentally deficient. Case for lifelong control. Male, born 1913. Mentally deficient. Lifelong custodial case. Female, born 1914. Feeble-minded and badly nourished. Case for permanent segregation. Male, born 1916. Very backward. May become partly self-supporting under favourable conditions.

In 1916 the whole of this family was committed to the care of the State, and at least six of them will be lifelong cases. The cost to the State, computed up to twenty-one years in each case, is approximately L8,500, but the additional future cost may easily be estimated at L5,000, making in all the sum of L13,500. The father was ordered to pay at the rate of 15s. a week, but the amount recovered from him to date is only L156.

Case No. 6. + -+ -+ Father: Mother: Subnormal. Was a Has always been watersider, so addicted to periodic dirty in habits fits of insanity. that watersiders Has been in mental complained. A hospital on several sexual case. occasions. + + + Female, born 1904. Subnormal. + + Female, born 1909. These four children were Subnormal; committed to the care of also delinquent. the state in 1917. + + Female, born 1915. Subnormal. + + Female, born 1916. Subnormal. + + Unknown Not yet brought under + + State control. Unknown + + Unknown + + +

The approximate cost to the State of maintaining these four children will be L5,150, less what is recovered from the father. Up to the present the amount received from him is L176. Should the other three children be brought under State control, the additional cost may amount to approximately L5,000.

This is a glaring case of persons being allowed to marry who are totally unfit to marry. A relative stated that the mother's mentality was in a shocking state at the time of marriage. The father has always been subnormal. The woman is too insane at times to attend to ordinary household duties or matters of ordinary personal cleanliness. At the time the children were committed the home was in a shockingly filthy condition, and at that time was one of the worst brought under the notice of the Department in the district. The second girl (age fifteen) has had her hair cut for the sake of cleanliness by some kindly disposed well-wisher. The mother allowed the dirt to accumulate to such an extent that the whole of the girl's head was covered with a scab of dirt. She had to enter the Hospital to have this removed. This was a most objectionable case. After the State took charge of these children the mother and father were still allowed to cohabit, with the result that three more children have been born. Without doubt, these children will also be supported by the State. The father is a sexual case, and foster-parents of the children have objected to the father visiting them on account of the way he handles them.


Wallen, in his book "Problems of Subnormality," draws attention to three basic phases of the problem of the feeble-minded:—

"(1.) The obligation of society to identify and register as early as possible all feeble-minded children. All students of social problems will concede that feeble-mindedness is one of the fundamental causes of our numerous social ills. It is a prolific source of poverty, destitution, all kinds of crimes against property and person, social immorality, illegitimacy, and of prolific and degenerate progeny.

"There are few problems in present-day constructive social economics which are more important than the development of a State-wide and a nation-wide policy for the compulsory official identification and registration of feeble-minded children, particularly all those who come from homes where the conditions are not such as to guarantee continuous supervision and support.

"(2.) The proper educational care and training of feeble-minded children. The adequate discharge of this obligation involves segregating the feeble-minded in special classes as soon as they can be indubitably diagnosed and providing for them the type of training which will maximally develop those powers and aptitudes which they possess and which will maximally equip them for earning their livelihood.

"(3.) Provision for continuous oversight and supervision over the feeble-minded."

It is clear that if we wish to reduce the number of mentally defective and socially inadequate individuals we must not only consider measures for preventing as far as possible the transmission of hereditary defect, but must also provide for the youth of the country an environment and training calculated to encourage the development of its best powers. There is no doubt that unfavourable home conditions and unsuitable educational methods conspire to keep many children from realizing their full capabilities. This is especially true of the backward and feeble-minded. It is, moreover, wasteful and ineffective to force on children of poor mental receptivity and potentialities an educational curriculum devised for those of normal mentality, since the subnormal impede the general progress in an ordinary class, and in it they soon form a discouraged minority which learns to accept failure unquestioningly. Untrained to perform the simple work which is within their power and in the achievement of which they might earn self-respect and happiness, they feel themselves to be aliens, and may cease to regard the laws of society in which they have no sense of membership. In such cases the community which might have benefited from their work had their potentialities been properly developed is burdened by their maintenance, and, further, if they are not law-abiding, has also the expense of segregating them in reformatories and gaols. Hence it is clearly the duty of the State to adapt the educational curriculum to the requirements of various groups of children.

The child who has been handicapped by illness and lack of opportunity, the child who is inherently dull and backward, must be distinguished from the child with nervous instability or definite mental defect. Wherever possible, the training suitable for various improvable types of children should be arranged in connection with the ordinary public schools. But the curriculum must be modified to suit the need of the individual and should be directed with the object of making him a useful member of society. By this means these pupils are not deprived of that association with their normal fellows which is of such value as a preparation for their after-life in the community.

For children whose homes are unsuitable or too remote from centres, who require more continuous supervision, or who tend to become delinquent, special residential schools will be necessary. These schools would also be used for those whose capabilities cannot be assessed without extended expert observation for a considerable period.

The special school is to be regarded as a training-centre for such feeble-minded children as are expected as a result of the training received there to be fitted to take a place in the community and to perform useful work under adequate supervision. There is a danger of filling the special schools with children whose poor mental endowment renders them incapable of receiving benefit at all commensurate with the energy and expense devoted to them. Such children are subjects for custodial institutions.

Institutional care is necessary for mentally defective persons whose helplessness or anti-social traits would render them either the victims of the unscrupulous or a menace to society. Such individuals should be segregated in farm and industrial colonies, so that not only is the community freed from the responsibility of their presence, but they themselves are afforded opportunity of leading much happier and more useful lives, and of becoming, to some extent, self-supporting.

All feeble-minded children within the community, whether in special classes, or on parole from an institution for the feeble-minded, or over school age, should be carefully supervised.

It is clear that the problem of making provision for the feeble-minded and mentally abnormal in the community is first to be encountered in the schools, though there must be considered also a much smaller number of such low mental capacity that they have never sought admission there.

In deciding the place of the feeble-minded in the community factors other than the degree of mental defect have to be considered. Many feeble-minded individuals are capable of performing useful work, and provided they have no anti-social traits and can receive adequate care outside their permanent inclusion in an institution is undesirable, not only from consideration of their own well-being, but also from a social and economic standpoint. Many feeble-minded individuals are so dependent upon routine that having once been trained in the regular performance of simple duties they find difficulty in breaking their methodical programme. In this way their lack of initiative is really protective, as it tends to keep them steadfastly at their labours.

In the case of all feeble-minded persons living outside institutions, whether with relatives or otherwise, the State should, in the interest of both such feeble-minded individuals and of society, have the ultimate right of supervision.

The magnitude of the task to be undertaken cannot be estimated unless we have some indication of how numerous are those for whom special measures must be adopted. The information given below must not be too literally interpreted, but will serve to throw some light upon existing conditions in New Zealand.


In the absence of a complete system of notification, which the Committee consider is urgently necessary, any estimate as to the number of feeble-minded to be dealt with must be largely a matter of conjecture.

From the annual report of the Education Department, however, interesting information is available showing the ages of the pupils in the several classes of the primary schools. The following table is considered worthy of reprinting in this report, for from the figures it supplies some idea may be formed of the number of backward and feeble-minded children attending primary schools. Children of extremely low-grade mentality do not attend school as a rule, while feeble-minded children higher in the scale, discouraged by the unsuitable course of instruction and lack of sympathetic treatment, tend to leave school early. Hence the number of feeble-minded children in any community must be considerably larger than the school records indicate.

The following table shows the ages of pupils in the several classes of the primary schools. The numbers between the heavy horizontal lines represent those that, beginning school under six years of age spend an average of two years in the preparatory classes and one year in each of the standards. The numbers above the upper heavy lines have progressed at a greater rate than that indicated, and those below the lower lines have either begun school later or have progressed more slowly.

The most arresting feature in the table (p. 13) is the large number of children in classes lower than should be expected at their age. Thus the preparatory classes had 12,693 pupils over the age of eight years. This number is certainly a considerable reduction on the total for the previous year, but it still represents no less than 18 per cent. of the total roll of those classes. Particular attention is being directed to the problem of retardation, and in some of the larger centres special classes for retardates have been established.

It will also be seen that the actual number of children retarded three years or more, including the preparatory classes and up to Standard III—beyond which the higher grades of the feeble-minded do not progress as a rule—is 4,917 out of a total of 212,709 children attending school, or a trifle over 2 per cent. In some countries three years' retardation is regarded as prima facie evidence of mental deficiency. Probably New Zealand has much the same proportion of mental defectives as other countries. This is stated by Goddard to be between 2 and 3 per cent. of the population.

A recent survey made by the Education Department of the children attending the primary schools in a typical area disclosed the fact that out of a total school population of 16,499 no fewer than 950 pupils, constituting 5.7 per cent. of the total school enrolment, are retarded two years or more. Some of these may be classed as dull normal; some may be suffering from remediable physical defects; others may be merely the victims of unfavourable circumstances, while others again may be what Burt calls "late bloomers"—i.e., cases of slow development. Many of them, however, will ultimately prove to be mental defectives. Deficiency sometimes does not reveal itself definitely until the pre-adolescent period or early adolescence.

Of the total number on the school registers 266, or 1.6 per cent., are retarded three years or more. It is interesting to note from information supplied by Mr. N. R. McKenzie, Inspector of Schools, that this is exactly the percentage of defectives discovered in the schools of a section of the city of Toronto as the result of a psychological survey. It also corresponds with the number in the Vancouver city schools, where nineteen special classes are operating with a school population of 19,000—i.e., one class per 1,000 pupils.

For the purpose of this report a preliminary survey from information supplied by social workers, school-teachers, police, Hospital Boards, &c., has been made by the Education Department of what may be regarded as the obviously feeble-minded and epileptic cases known to exist outside institutions in the Dominion.

The following figures show the number of such cases reported, but these figures are incomplete—the actual number must be greater:—

At 24th June, 1924.

Feeble-minded. Epileptic.

Age. Male. Female. Male. Female.

Under sixteen years 524 285 41 43 Over sixteen years 305 203 35 31 829 488 76 74


Males 905 Females 562 1,467

Table showing Ages of Pupils in the several Classes of the Primary Schools.

- - - -+ Class P. Standard I. Standard II. Ages. + - - - - - - Boys. Girls. Boys. Girls. Boys. Girls. - - - - - - - 5 and under 6 7,923 7,334 .. .. .. .. 6 " 7 10,776 10,356 73 72 3 2 7 " 8 10,324 9,291 2,021 2,047 111 141 ================================ 8 " 9 4,970 4,183 = 5,696 5,413 = 1,729 1,884 ================================ 9 " 10 1,400 1,118 4,443 3,732 = 5,011 5,152 ================ 10 " 11 393 277 1,657 1,162 4,210 3,624 11 " 12 112 107 487 383 1,814 1,461 12 " 13 54 30 146 91 628 425 13 " 14 18 13 51 24 201 125 14 " 15 7 5 10 9 58 42 15 " 16 2 1 2 6 12 6 16 " 17 1 .. 1 2 .. 2 Over 17 .. .. .. 1 .. .. - - - - - - - Totals (1923) 35,980 32,715 14,587 12,942 13,777 12,864 - - - - - - -

- - - -+ Standard III. Standard IV. Standard V. Standard VI. -+ - - - - - - -+ Boys. Girls. Boys. Girls. Boys. Girls. Boys. Girls. + - - - - - - - - .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 3 1 .. .. .. .. .. .. 113 135 3 2 .. .. .. .. 1,447 1,531 102 66 .. 4 1 .. ================ 4,570 4,749 = 1,311 1,439 82 108 6 4 ================================ 4,202 3,827 = 4,166 4,214 = 1,123 1,202 93 95 ================================= 2,268 1,860 3,890 3,515 = 3,540 3,664 = 1,020 1,064 ================================ 935 669 2,129 1,764 3,766 3,271 = 3,255 3,277 ================ 235 139 790 500 1,848 1,499 3,101 2,883 36 26 148 81 532 349 1,454 1,010 8 6 11 13 61 30 194 114 1 .. .. 3 8 8 25 13 - - - - - - - -+ 13,818 12,943 12,550 11,597 10,960 10,135 9,149 8,460 + - - - - - - - -

- -+ Standard VII. Totals. -+ - + Boys. Girls. Boys. Girls. + - - .. .. 7,923 7,334 .. .. 10,852 10,430 .. .. 12,459 11,480 .. .. 12,511 11,617 .. .. 12,404 11,603 .. .. 12,229 11,363 .. 1 11,997 11,290 3 3 11,549 10,652 20 42 10,375 9,185 =============== 34 47 6,083 5,124 23 37 2,209 1,516 3 15 279 182 1 3 35 28 - - + 84 148 110,905 101,804 + - -


Methods employed in other Countries.

In many parts of America and in some European countries the problem of the mentally backward and feeble-minded child receives close attention. The juvenile delinquent is also carefully studied. For children who fail to make good in school, or who are guilty of frequent misdemeanours, a system of intelligence testing and psychological analysis is carried out. A study is also made of family history and environmental influences. Children who are "maladjusted to their environment" are kept under survey with a view to finding what is the difficulty and how it can be overcome. To quote from the "Mental Hygiene Bulletin," published by the National Committee for Mental Hygiene for the United States of America: "Children showing definite problems are selected for more intensive study and treatment. The grossly mentally handicapped child, who is likely to become a social problem if not properly dealt with in childhood; the psychopathic and mentally maladjusted child, who later in life may develop mental disease; the child manifesting conduct disorders which may be the beginning of a delinquent or criminal career; the retarded child; the epileptic; the child with speech-defect or with some physical disability; the child with gross personality difficulties; the exceptionally brilliant child—all present problems that demand attention during the child's school life. Such children are given a thorough physical examination, a careful psychiatric study, and an individual psychological examination, including a variety of psychological tests, not only to determine the child's intelligence rating, but, in so far as possible, his special abilities and disabilities. A social study is made of the child's home, school, and other environments to determine what factors may have unfavourably influenced the development of the child, and what forces may be utilized in securing the child's adjustments. The results of all these studies are given to the school authorities with recommendations relative to the needed adjustments."

In New Zealand there is need of increased facilities for the study of the individual child, and the services of psychological experts should be available in order to group children according to their mental equipment and special requirements. Only those fully qualified to estimate accurately all the evidence available are fitted to decide the destiny of children.

Herein lies the danger of relying exclusively upon the use of mental tests.

Mental tests are of definite value in enabling the observer to arrive at a conclusion regarding the general mental development of the subject, or to investigate some particular psychological function. A too exclusive dependence upon the result of the application of these tests, especially by a layman, would invariably lead to error. A comprehensive survey is necessary, taking into consideration such factors as family history, environment, physical condition, behaviour, temperament, &c. The observation, possibly for a considerable period of time, of an expert psychiatrist or psychologist may be necessary in order to arrive at an accurate estimate of the mental ability of the subject.

In this regard we quote from Tredgold, "Mental Deficiency": "There are, however, very many exceptions, particularly when we are dealing with the milder grades of deficiency, so that if serial tests are depended upon for the diagnosis of these cases they may be, and often are, very fallacious. I may say here that although it would, of course, be extremely valuable if we could devise tests which would accurately measure mental capacity, particularly that capacity and those qualities which are needed for social adaptation and maintenance, we have not yet succeeded in doing so. The mental factors which may be involved in this capacity for social adaptation, and which render the individual in need of care, supervision, or control, are many and varied, and there is even some danger that too much reliance upon serial tests may distract from the adequate investigation of these qualities and defects and lead to totally erroneous conclusions."

There is no doubt, however, that in the hands of competent observers properly applied tests afford information of great value in assessing mental and moral capacity, but the observer must be competent.


Present Legal Provision for Notification and Education of Feeble-minded Children, and for Care of Custodial Feeble-minded Adults and Children.

The Education Act, 1914, contains provision (see section 127) for the establishment of special schools for the education and training of afflicted children (deaf, blind, feeble-minded, and epileptic) between the ages of six and twenty-one years, with provision in the case of inmates of special schools for extension of the period of detention where it is considered necessary in the public interest. For the purposes of this Act,—

"'Feeble-minded child' means a child who, not being an idiot or imbecile or otherwise a proper person to be sent to an institution under the control of the Mental Hospitals Department, and not being merely backward, is by reason of mental or physical defect incapable of receiving proper benefit from instruction in an ordinary school, but is not incapable by reason of such defect of receiving benefit from instruction in a special school."

"'Epileptic child' means an epileptic child who is unfit by reason of severe or frequent epilepsy to attend an ordinary school, but is not idiot or imbecile or otherwise a proper person to be sent to an institution under the control of the Mental Hospitals Department."

Section 127: "(2.) It shall be the duty of the parent of any ... feeble-minded or epileptic child to provide efficient and suitable education for such child."

"(3.) If the parent of such child fails to provide such education for such child, or is deemed by the Minister to be unable to provide such education, the Minister may direct that such child be sent to such special school or other institution for the education of feeble-minded or epileptic children as he thinks fit."

Section 129: "Every parent, teacher of a school (either public or private), constable, or officer of a charitable or kindred institution who is aware of the place of residence (either temporary or permanent) of a blind, deaf, feeble-minded, or epileptic child, and the householder in whose house any such child resides, shall send notification of the fact to the Minister, giving name, age, and address of the child; and if any such person neglects or fails to comply with this provision, such person shall on conviction thereof be liable to a fine not exceeding one pound, or in the case of a second or subsequent offence, whether relating to the same or another child, not exceeding five pounds."

Section 56: "Every public school shall be organized and conducted in accordance with regulations (a copy of which shall be conspicuously put up in the school): Provided that the Minister may, on the application of the Board, sanction the establishment of special classes for backward children—that is, children who, through physical infirmity, absence from school, or otherwise, are below the average standard of education reached by other children of the same age."

The Mental Defectives Act, 1911, divides mentally defective persons into six classes, as under:—

"'Mentally defective person' means a person who, owing to his mental condition requires oversight, care, or control for his own good or in the public interest, and who, according to the nature of his mental defect, and to the degree of care, oversight, or control deemed to be necessary, is included in one of the following classes:—

"Class I: Persons of unsound mind—that is, persons who, owing to disorder of the mind, are incapable of managing themselves or their affairs.

"Class II: Persons mentally infirm—that is, persons who, through mental infirmity arising from age or decay of their faculties, are incapable of managing themselves or their affairs.

"Class III: Idiots—that is, persons so deficient in mind from birth or from an early age that they are unable to guard themselves against common physical dangers, and therefore require oversight, care, or control required to be exercised in the case of young children.

"Class IV: Imbeciles—that is, persons who, though capable of guarding themselves against common physical dangers, are incapable, or if of school age will presumably, when older, be incapable, of earning their own living by reason of mental deficiency existing from birth or from an early age.

"Class V: Feeble-minded—that is, persons who may be capable of earning a living under favourable circumstances, but are incapable from mental deficiency existing from birth or from an early age of competing on equal terms with their normal fellows, or of managing themselves and their affairs with ordinary prudence.

"Class VI: Epileptics—that is, persons suffering from epilepsy."

This is similar to the classification in the English Mental Deficiency Act, which also includes the following definition:—

"'Moral imbeciles'—that is, persons who from an early age display permanent mental defect, coupled with strong criminal or vicious propensities, on which punishment has little or no deterrent effect."

In the opinion of the Committee it is very important that a similar definition should be included in any amendment of the New Zealand Act.

A Magistrate may order the committal to an institution of any person coming within these definitions if he is satisfied that such person is mentally defective and two medical men give a certificate to that effect. Persons coming under the description in Classes I, II, III, or IV are committed to the mental hospitals, but there seems to be considerable reluctance both on the part of medical practitioners to certify and of Magistrates to commit to a mental hospital epileptics and those described as "feeble-minded." Evidence was given before the Committee to the effect that there would not be the same disinclination to send these classes of patients to a special institution such as a farm colony or an industrial colony.

Apart from the residential special schools, special classes have been established in connection with public schools in each of the large centres of population throughout the Dominion with promising results.

The Committee visited the special classes in one of the centres, and were impressed with the sympathetic attitude of the teachers towards their scholars and the happy appearance of the children, who seemed to be keenly interested and busy over their appointed tasks.

There is as yet no special provision in New Zealand for the education of epileptic children. Fortunately, the number of these is apparently small, but, as in many cases it is undesirable for them to attend the ordinary classes of the elementary schools, the question of arranging for their tuition otherwise requires earnest consideration.

Following on legislative authority contained in the Education Act already referred to, provision for feeble-minded children, within the meaning of the Act, was made by establishing the special school at Otekaike, near Oamaru, with accommodation for 195 boys, and some years later a similar institution was opened at Richmond, near Nelson, with provision for about eighty girls.

These institutions contain two separate divisions, providing for—(1) The training of children of school age, and (2) the instruction of young persons over school age in handicraft and farm-work.

Both institutions have modern and well-equipped day schools with trained women teachers, and at Otekaike the industrial division is provided with workshops and instructors in trades and handicrafts.

The children are housed in modern and well-appointed cottage homes, each with accommodation for thirty-five, and are supervised by selected women attendants.

The Committee visited and inspected both Otekaike and Richmond, and were very favourably impressed with the healthy environment and careful management of these institutions, and with the humane and sympathetic methods adopted for the purpose of making the best of imperfect human material.

At both places physical exercises, musical drill, and organized games form an important part of the training, and the teachers deserve commendation for the efficiency of the pupils in these respects and their general appearance of physical fitness.

Moral training and training in habits of personal cleanliness and prompt obedience form an important part of the curriculum, and the effects are noticeable in the quick movements and alert attitude of the inmates. The girls at Richmond receive training in domestic work, needlework, knitting, darning, &c., according to their ability.

The children are taught various kinds of handiwork, and by grouping them according to mental capacity they are given a school course modified to suit the individual. In the industrial division at Otekaike, baskets, sea-grass furniture, and all kinds of wickerware and coir mats are well made, and are readily sold. Bootmaking and repairing for the institution are also carried out by certain of the inmates under a practical man. Attached to Otekaike there is an area of land where farming, gardening, and fruitgrowing absorb most of the labour of the older inmates.

At Richmond the area of land available for cultivation is limited, but even so it occurred to the Committee that something more might possibly be done in the direction of providing congenial and profitable work for the older girls, as, for instance, the growing of flowers for sale in the Wellington markets.

At Otekaike, after training, the best types of the older inmates are placed out, usually with farmers in the district, and for the most part are leading useful lives under the supervision of the local Juvenile Probation Officers of the Education Department.

The matter of placing out girls from the school at Richmond is obviously one of much greater difficulty.

At both Otekaike and Richmond there is a growing group of custodial cases, due to the fact that in many instances the parents or guardians are either unable to provide proper protective measures for the children if released, or are unsuitable in other ways to have the control of them. On the other hand, there is reluctance on the part of medical practitioners to certify such cases for a mental hospital. It is very desirable, of course, that the special schools should be used as trying-out places for children whose mental equipment is questionable, but where after a reasonable trial it is evident that merely custodial care is required there should be some simple method of passing them on to farm colonies or suitable custodial homes.

As a matter of fact, the school at Richmond has its full complement of pupils, and as many cases have now to be refused admission it is urgently necessary that other provision should be made, especially for the older girls needing custodial care.

Mention should also be made of a visit paid by the Committee to the industrial school at Caversham, which deals with girls and young women who have failed to make good when placed out under supervision in the community. There is a small clothing-factory attached to the institution, which provides useful employment for certain of the better-type girls. It is stated that, even under present conditions, which are not altogether satisfactory, the majority of the Caversham girls benefit from the training they receive to such an extent that they can be trusted to earn their living in the community under supervision.

The Committee, however, are of opinion that the buildings and site are most unsuitable for such an institution. Little level space is available for recreation purposes, the property is overlooked at the back, and the location and general plan of the buildings are such that the utmost vigilance has to be exercised. For the inmates belonging to the reformatory section it is considered that such an institution should be situated in the country with sufficient suitable land to permit of gardening and farming on a small scale. This would afford healthful occupation for the inmates and contribute towards their support. Such an institution should be so situated as to be readily accessible from all parts of the Dominion.

In the matter of the admission of young offenders over sixteen years of age to the Caversham Industrial School, and also to the Boys' Training-farm at Weraroa, the Committee found that in these cases the Courts have no authority to commit direct, but must first sentence the young person to imprisonment and then recommend transfer to an industrial school. Such a system is not only cumbersome, but is fundamentally wrong, and should be remedied as soon as possible. The Courts should have discretionary powers to commit any young offender under eighteen years of age direct to an industrial school.

At Caversham there is a small proportion of the inmates who should be transferred to a Borstal institution. This refers to the so-called "over-sexed" girl, and the girl with strong anti-social proclivities, who should be confined to an institution where there is provision for segregation and treatment of refractory cases. In many instances these young women should be kept under control for a considerable period. Many are hopelessly immoral, and in the interests of society should not be allowed their liberty.

That section of the Caversham institution comprising children committed to the care of the State on account of destitution or unsuitable conditions in their homes would be better provided for in a separate receiving home. This would be in accord with the practice obtaining in all the other centres.

The Education Department deals with all children committed to the care of the State for causes varying from destitution to delinquency. The procedure is for the police to charge the children and for the Magistrate to commit them to the nearest receiving home, where they are kept under observation, trained in proper habits, and so forth, and as soon as possible, if they exhibit no anti-social traits, placed out in selected foster-homes. The Department holds the view, shared by leading authorities, that home life, however humble, provided the foster-parents are suitable people, is better than institution life for the majority of the children who are cast on the State for sustenance and protection. The supervision of these cases, and the selection of employment for them when they become old enough, are carried out by the nurses, Managers of receiving homes, and Juvenile Probation Officers of the Education Department. Several of these officers gave valuable evidence in the course of this inquiry. These officials not only look after the welfare of the children brought under State control, but also carry out a great deal of preventive work in the way of advising parents and supervising children, who by their timely and kindly intervention are saved from coming within the scope of the law.


Several witnesses before the Committee pointed out the need for the establishment of special Courts for children and juveniles.

The Committee recommend that such provision be made, and also that clinics be established providing for the physical and psychological examination of all children coming under the jurisdiction of these Courts. The fuller knowledge thus acquired would be extremely valuable to the authorities dealing with the children.

Many countries have recognized this need and have established properly constituted Courts for dealing with children and juveniles as apart and distinct from Police Courts.

In this connection it is surprising to find that New Zealand is lagging behind in that in the laws relating to the punishment of crime hardly any distinction in procedure is made between the child and the adult. It is true, of course, that a practice has grown up whereby children are dealt with in the Police Courts at a time apart from the hearing of adult cases, but the procedure of the Criminal Court has been retained—i.e., the young delinquent is charged with an offence, is required to plead, and if found guilty is liable to conviction. In the majority of such cases the charges are for minor offences and are dealt with summarily, but a child charged with an indictable offence and remanded to the Supreme Court for trial or sentence may in the interim be detained in prison.

By arrangement between the Departments concerned most of the cases of children and juveniles are investigated by the Juvenile Probation Officer of the Education Department prior to the hearing, but these officers have no legal standing in any Court, and are not even empowered to bring a destitute child before a Magistrate for committal to the care of the State. This function must be carried out by a police constable.

The Children's Court, as it is constituted in other countries, is a Court of equity, and its principal function is to consider all children brought before it as cases requiring protection and care. It is the business of the Court, by means of careful investigation in each case of conduct, school history, family history, and mental condition, to ascertain, if possible, the reason for misconduct, and either to eliminate or modify the causes, or to remove the child from the environment that has contributed to its present condition.

The presiding Magistrates are usually selected on account of their experience with children and knowledge of child psychology. In some of the Courts in America women are selected for these positions.

It is common knowledge that lack of mental balance, retardation, and physical defect are responsible for much juvenile delinquency, and it is therefore essential that if the children appearing before the Courts are to be dealt with in a scientific manner there should be provision on the lines recommended above.


It seems to the Committee that the Dominion has now come to the parting of the ways in this matter, and unless the multiplication of the feeble-minded is to be allowed to go on in an ever-increasing ratio, with consequences dreadful to contemplate, the problem must be dealt with on broader lines, and in a more comprehensive fashion.

In the first place, a comprehensive system of notification is essential so that a register as complete as possible may be made of the cases to be dealt with.

The English Commission for Inquiring into the Care and Control of the Feeble-minded, whose report appeared as far back as 1908, laid down the basic principles of a sound policy in dealing with this question. Their first principle was that persons who cannot take a part in the struggle for life owing to mental defect should be afforded by the State such protection as may be suited to their needs. Their next principle was that the mental condition of these persons, and neither their poverty nor their crime, is the real ground of their claim for help from the State. Their third principle was that if the mentally defective are to be properly considered and protected as such it is necessary to ascertain who they are and where they are.

This, of course, is the object of the system of registration to which we have referred.

Lastly, the English Commission held that the protection of the mentally defective person, whatever form it takes, should be continued as long as it is necessary for his good.

These principles appear to us to be quite sound, and we have no hesitation in adopting them.

Proposed Eugenic Board.

In regard to the method of compiling the register, some excellent suggestions were made by Dr. Theodore Grant Gray, Medical Superintendent of the Nelson Mental Hospital. He proposed, first, that a Government Department or sub-department should be created to deal with all feeble-minded and mentally defective persons living outside institutions. It would deal not only with the feeble-minded, but it would act the part of a Government "after-care association," in that it would keep in touch with all persons discharged from mental hospitals. One of its duties would be to keep a register of all feeble-minded, epileptic, and mentally defective persons living outside institutional care. Dr. Gray further suggests that the register should be compiled in the following manner:—

(1.) It would be a statutory duty of all School Medical Officers to report to the Department the names of all feeble-minded or epileptic children in their districts.

(2.) It would be the duty of the District Education Board to report any child of school age who was not attending school because of feeble-mindedness or epilepsy.

(3.) It would be the duty of the Superintendent, owner, or licensee of every hospital, private hospital, industrial school, or reformatory prison to notify the Department upon the admission of any person suffering from feeble-mindedness or epilepsy.

(4.) It would be the duty of the Superintendent of every mental hospital to notify the name of every person discharged from a mental hospital.

(5.) It would be the duty of every Judge or Magistrate in all cases brought before him in which there appears to be mental enfeeblement or epilepsy to call to his assistance an alienist, and, if the report is confirmatory, to order such person's name to be placed upon the register.

N.B.—In the case of sections 1, 2, and 3 the Department would apply to a Magistrate for an order to register the person concerned. In section 4 the process would be automatic.

* * * * *

The Committee consider the machinery suggested for the purpose of compilation of the register very suitable, subject to such modifications as may be found necessary in practice, but have come to the conclusion that it would be preferable for many reasons to keep cases of this kind, as far as possible, free from Courts, a large part of whose work consists in trying persons charged with criminal offences, and to follow the plan which seems to be working very well in several American States—namely, to set up a Board of experts to deal with these cases.

The Board, which might be called the Eugenic Board, should be a central Board associated with a special Department or sub-department, of which the head should be a man of sufficient personality, energy, and organizing-power to grapple effectively with this question—first, by taking the necessary steps to compile a reasonably exhaustive register, and afterwards, by co-ordination with cognate Departments or by independent departmental action, to build up the necessary machinery to provide for the care, segregation, supervision, or treatment of the class with which his Department is required to deal.

The compilation of the register is a departmental matter, but legislative authority will be necessary, to provide for compulsory notification and to prescribe the means. A well qualified departmental officer should at once be detailed to take this matter in hand and formulate from the evidence given to the Committee and from other sources of information the method and means of obtaining complete registration.

The first step towards the formation of the Board should be the early selection and appointment of a thoroughly trained and experienced psychiatrist. Irrespective of the necessity for the employment of such a man as the scientific member of the proposed Board, the Committee are of opinion that the Departments of Health, Mental Hospitals, Prisons, and the Special Schools Branch of the Education Department are at present suffering from the lack of expert advice in this direction, and that it is high time the Government had in its service at least one trained psychological expert, with recourse to the services of other men with similar training in the four centres.

The Eugenic Board should be vested with power to examine all cases notified and, after due investigation, to place on the register—

(1.) Such persons as in its judgment come within the definition in the Mental Deficiency Act of feeble-minded;

(2.) Persons afflicted with epilepsy associated with automatism or other conditions rendering them especially liable to dangerous, immoral, or otherwise anti-social manifestations, and in the case of juvenile epileptics the mere frequency of fits rendering them unsuitable for attendance at ordinary schools;

(3.) Moral imbeciles as defined in the English Mental Deficiency Act; and

(4.) Persons discharged from mental hospitals.

It should be the function of the Board to order or recommend to the Minister the segregation, supervision, or treatment of the different classes. Cases receiving adequate care in their homes would not, of course, be interfered with.

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