SIR—In reply to Mr. R. G. Cookson may I point out that EIS a rule theory and practice are poles apart, and in this respect the 1933 Children's Act has proved no exception to the rule. I would like to ask Mr. Cookson whether he has any experience at all in the working of this Act, for if he has then he must have known that what he was writing was inaccurate, and here is proof. I'll take his most glaring error first:
He writes: " No convictions are recorded under the Children's Act, 1933." That, of course, is theory, but here is fact.
Some time ago I interviewed two police officers about the activities of some girls who were suspected of robbing collecting boxes. The officers were in possession of records of offences with which these girls had been charged over a period of three to four years. Again, three weeks ago seven boys were sentenced to be birched at Ealing, and six of them were forthwith birched. The seventh being unwell was put back a week. Two weeks ago he came up. He got out of his birching, but his record of previous appearances before the court was produced in court, read out, and published in the local press.
Mr. Cookson asks how " the poor, incompetent and sometimes vicious parents are to find the goodly sum '" in which I suggested they should be bound over to be responsible for the good behaviour of their children. The answer is they don't have to find it, they don't even have to lodge the sum as security, they merely have to take their children home and see, by whatever method they think fit, that the children do behave, and if the parent does the job properly he, or she as the case may be, is never called upon to find the money.
I emphatically deny that most of the children sent to approved schools come from the broken homes of the very poor, or that they are victims of social conditions. To say so is to slander a vast body of law-abiding and worthy parents. Children who are sufferers from social conditions are taken and • cared for by welfare societies, Catholic, and non-Catholic. There are approximately 10,000 children in Catholic homes throughout Britain who lwere suffering from social conditions. Not one of them has been charged before, or conunitted by a juvenile court. They have all been rescued by Catholic charity.
Finally, Mr. Cookson compares the freedom of an approved school with that of the ordinary boarding school. A friend of mine had to take a boy to one of these schools. On arrival the boy was told that he was quite free, and that there was nothing to stop him from running away. Neither was there, but what the boy wasn't told was that if he did run away he'd be promptly fetched back. He did in fact run away, and he was brought back by police.
30, Chestnut Grove, Ealing, W.5.