Fountain Valley News - Your Hometown Community Newspaper

Juvenile Delinquents


September 26, 2018

A real problem was raising the ire of school boards, teachers and parents a hundred years ago. Now, there was a resurgence of concern in the problem after World War II, and some thin even today, but I find the problem from back then quite interesting, maybe you will too.

Up in the Cripple Creek District, in the spring of 1903, seven students from Victor's Washington School had a day in court. The children between 12 and 16 needed to appear before the county judge on interesting charges. A complaint comes down mainly to the violation of the school's rule prohibiting students from chewing gum during school hours. This was a rule that was rarely followed by the students! The principal of the school, Miss Howard, was trying to get things under control. She had observed the continuing problem, and ordered confiscation of any gum found in the school, in addition, she ordered any students chewing gum to surrender their gum, and a drop of quinine would be added to the gum, and the student was then to continue chewing it. The quinine was a bitter medicine, which was harmless, but made the gum quite unpleasant.

In this case, one of the youngsters was caught with gum and given the penalty. At lunch the brother of this student verbally assaulted the Principal, and the young man was ordered to go home after their skirmish. After school the two children, and five friends, pelted the principal and another teacher with stones, rotten food and other available items. The principal made her way to the police station, followed by these children in their assault. When an officer came out, the attack continued briefly. Names were taken and tickets were issued.

This was not the only incident, and the whole district was upset over the conduct of the area's children. The children in trouble had to report to the court monthly, reporting on their conduct in school. Each one was to carry a card where any infractions would be noted. After a few months several of the students failed to report on their behavior. Two young men were referred to the state reformatory, and the others warned. It seems that even this warning was not good enough for some. It seems that after a baseball game at the Victor School both teams settled the score in a fist fight! Many of the young men would now also carry these conduct cards and report on their behavior.

I'm not sure how all of this worked out, but as a teacher, chewing gum was not even a minor problem. The occasional teacher tried to limit it, but with today's distractions, like telephones, gum is pretty insignificant!


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