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January 25, 1958


Author Affiliations

117-11 238th St. Elmont, N. Y.

JAMA. 1958;166(4):402. doi:10.1001/jama.1958.02990040088022

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To the Editor:—  A paper in the Sept. 28th issue of The Journal, page 339, touches on a subject rapidly gaining grim prominence in many communities: juvenile delinquency. The author considers the delinquent youth as ill, and in need of treatment rather than of punishment. This generalization may distort the proportion of mental illness in the young wrongdoers. The adolescent is commonly, if not normally, in a period of psychological stress, and it is neither advisable nor possible to remove ordinary tensions from his everyday life. Teenagers can cope with their difficulties in other ways than by selecting their fellow citizens as victims in the acting out of their personality conflicts. In our treatment of youth the trend has been to lenience, to condone disrespect for authority and contempt for discipline. At the physiological age of rebellion against parent and authority many adolescents are inclined to pranks and misdeeds. This

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