Who Knows the Solution? Â 1926 Editorial in The Ojai
The following editorial appeared inÂ The Ojai, December 31, 1926:
The City of Ojai stands very badly in need at the present time of some one who can solve this problem of boys on the streets at night. Â This band of young fellows that ranges up and down the town after dark, has become a public nuisance. Â They congregate outside the theater and in other places and make the place hideous with their noise. Â The curfew ordinance apparently has no effect. Â It does no good to chase them off the main streets unless they will go home, and home is apparently the one place that has no attraction. Â The cooperation Â of the parents seems to be entirely lacking. Â As a result, there is growing up in our midst a bunch of young hooligans. Â They have no respect for the rights of other people or for property. Â A number of minor depredations have already occurred. Â From this stage, the step into crime is a short one. Â Unless something can be done about it we are raising a crop of recruits for the State to take care of later on.
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And yet, it is not fair to condemn these boys out of hand. Â Lacking any home life worthy of the name, they seek a field of interest and an outlet for their energies on the streets. Â All normal boys pass through an age when their instincts are those of a savage. Â At such a time they need understanding and guidance. Â The whole course of their future lives may be decided by the influence under which they come at this critical stage. Â Cannot something be done to help these boys? Â Is there not some way to provide them with the conditions that will give them scope for their energies along constructive and useful lines? Â Three things seem to be absolutely essential. Â First the right kind of leadership and supervision; second, a place to spend their time; and third, some sort of equipment.
The first is the hardest of all to find. Â The right kind of leaders for boys of this sort are young men. Â Men who have not lost touch with the effervescence of youthful nature, who can join in and yet retain the authority of leadership. Â And they should be men who can do something well enough to command the respect of the boys. Â Talking does little or no good. Â We might get a small workshop started wherein the boys might learn to make things with their hands. Â There is nothing quite so thrilling to a real boy as to discover and develop the skill of his hands. Â Games are good if they can be controlled.
The second and third requirements go together. Â We need some sort of a boys’ club with a certain amount of equipment for shop work and games. Â It would not cost a great deal.
Is it not possible for us to start some sort of boys’ club here in the Ojai? Â The need is great and we can hardly go on much longer ignoring the present state of affairs. Â Of what use our community singing and our folk dancing and our other attempts to promote a community spirit so long as we have these young people running wild about the streets? Â Surely it is time we elders did something to assist these young scallywags across this difficult and dangerous period of their lives.
The Ojai, Friday, December 31, 1926