A logic of its kind
Yesterday I was looking through some old papers that had lain forgotten in a garage. Among other things, including 101 Imperial Russian roubles in credit bills, I found a transcript of a short exchange with a young girl who more that forty years ago now had been remanded for three weeks into the care of a local authority social services department by the juvenile court, 'for reports'. She was placed in a residential observation and assessment centre, where I met her –
'I've been to see a psychiatrist.'
'Me Mum says they can tell why you did it.'
'But you didn't do it.'
'What did she do with you.'
'She asked me to draw a picture.'
'So she could tell why I did it.'
'But didn't she ask you if you'd done it?'
'No, she could tell that from the picture.'
(14 September, 1973)
I guess that I had kept this fragment because at the time I was fascinated by the belief systems to be found within child welfare, including the already fast-welfarising juvenile justice system, and as here its internal logic.
That was a long time ago:
- I had made no note the psychiatrist's name but if she was who I think then she went on to gain a minor national notoriety, and is now forgotten
- social services and juvenile justice: well, I got a few publications* and some interesting experiences and insights from them but. within ten years of this conversation, I was abandoning the struggle with 'child care' as a lost cause (my life raft was Conductive Education!)
- as for the girl, I hope that she made it, despite us all.
* For example: Sutton, A. (1983) Social inquiry reports to the juvenile courts, in H. Geach and E. Szwed (eds.) Providing Civil Justice for Children, London, Edward Arnold
I see that hardback copies of this book, radical stuff in its time, can now be snapped up on line at a nominal cost of one penny a copy, post and packing extra: