Let Children Play, Says Jane Addams, March 25, 1911

Fewer Criminals if Youngsters Are Given Lots of Fun Outdoors.

CHICAGO, March 25. -- "Give the children a chance to play," says Jane Addams of Hull House, "and they will not become criminals.

"To give the right quantity and quality of recreation to our young people is one of the most pressing duties toward them. More and more our reformatories are filled, not with criminals, but with boys who have within them the basis of play unsatisfied, the basis of art unfulfilled.

"It is these children, our brightest and best, whom we are spoiling and maiming by giving them no proper chance of development. What do we do for the boy or girl who differ from their fellows, who are kindled with the glorious desire for adventure?

"The city offers the adventurous children nothing to satisfy their desire for pleasure, nothing which will allow to cherish and to feed their ardent determination to conquer the world and make it a better one.

"So, these children go out and get into trouble, or else they stay in their poor houses or factories, and turn into stupid dullards, all initiative, all ambition, stamped out of them.

"We have the leader of the juvenile gang or the poor plodder in the shop, when, with a better conception of our civic duty, we should have a happy, healthy boy or girl, destined to become a worth-while citizen. We should have model dance halls under municipal control. We should have more parks, properly policed.

"We should have good and cheap theaters, where the best in dramatic literature could be seen at prices within the reach of everyone. We should make our finest pictures and music accessible to all, instead of shutting them away, as we often do in the tacit assumption that only a few can appreciate them."

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