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Juvenile delinquency among Indian girls; an examination of the causes and treatment of a sample group, and the resulting social implications. Woodward, Mary Twigg Wynn

Abstract

The subject of this is juvenile delinquency among the British Columbian Indian girls, but it is presented against a background of the living and opportunity conditions of the native Indian, especially the girl who leaves her home and comes unguarded to the metropolis. The study attempts to throw light on the causes of Indian delinquency and the current method of treating Indian offenders from a specific sample of cases. The main research material is taken from the Girls' Industrial School records of the girls of Indian blood (twenty in all), who were committed there between the years 1944 to 1948. The project was undertaken in full knowledge of the scant material available, but this very lack of material forms one of the findings of the study. So far as the records take the story, Indian delinquent girls show the same causes for their anti-social behaviour as White delinquent girls, but because they are Indian and part of a greater problem, negligible inquiries are made into the reasons for their actions, and their behaviour is explained as 'typically Indian'. Secondly the findings show that Indian girls are treated as an extraneous group. Their rehabilitation into society is unsuccessful because the British Columbian authorities are overwhelmed by the administrative difficulties involved, attention is at present concentrated on other delinquent problems which are not so complex. The conclusion is drawn that the fate of these Indian girls must promote greater awareness of the part social work could play in helping other Indian children. The conditions under which the Indians live are a discredit to Canadian welfare standards. It is evident that not only personal social services are needed, but-as with other delinquency problems - standards in homes, health and education must be raised. At present Indian delinquency is too isolated as a purely legal offence, a new approach is needed which will recognize it as a welfare problem as well as a criminal problem.

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