Ferguson: Bitter harvest (4-30-43)

The Pittsburgh Press (April 30, 1943)


Ferguson: Bitter harvest

By Mrs. Walter Ferguson

Far too little was said in our newspapers about the recent YMCA conference on juvenile delinquency held in St. Louis. Yet the facts disclosed are of viral importance to that part of the public concerned with the effects of war upon children and adolescents.

Social welfare over the country have expressed alarm at the steady increase of delinquency, particularly sex offense among young girls.

It’s high time for adults, fighting, sacrificing and hoping for a better world, to share their fears. The situation in every community calls for action as well as thought. We must plan to save these children, and it can’t be done by talking about their behavior or writing pieces like this one for the papers. It has got to be an intelligent cooperative effort by all men and women who have the imagination to see war as a motivating force behind human behavior.

Certainly, the freedom our soldiers are dying for won’t be worth much to youngsters whose bodies are diseased and whose morals have gone down the drain.

We now reap the bitter harvest, sowed to the spendthrift ‘20s, in the lawless Prohibition days, and in the era of ego exploitation. Out of that era came irresponsible, selfish, drunken parents; adults without codes of honor or a sense of duty toward either parents, husbands, wives or children.

Even today millions of mature men and women regard and use the war effort as an opportunity to fling convention and virtue to the winds. While men suffer and die, they are out “for a good time.” Is it any wonder that adolescents looking on at adult antics have become tainted with the poison of defeatism, irresponsibility and self-indulgence?

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I can relate to her theme because my maternal grandmother born in 1908 was from that era and I now know more about her life than when she was alive.

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