Before Any Other Jewry Thought of Grappling with Problem a Few New and Women in Anglo-jewry Undertoo
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Before Any Other Jewry Thought of Grappling with Problem a Few New and Women in Anglo-jewry Undertoo

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I hope that some day we shall have a society for the protection of young men and boys, Professor M. A. Bigelow, President of the American Social Hygiene Society, said to-day speaking at a meeting held here at the home of Lord Bearsted, by the Jewish Association for the Protection of Girls and Women.

Dr. Claude G. Montefiore was in the chair and the Chief Rabbi, Dr. J. H. Hertz, was among the speakers.

I was interested in the case histories of girls and women in South America compiled by your Association, Professor Bigelow went on, but I could produce hundreds of cases which I have carefully investigated, from which you would see the need for a society for the protection of young men and boys. Let me also put in a plea for social hygiene education. It is very well to pursue protective work for immediate effect – it is necessary but in the final analysis it is not going to get us anywhere. It seems that the only hope is education of young people. More and more the American Social Hygiene Society is putting that in the forefront. We feel that sex education should begin in the home and in childhood. The true definition of sex is not the widespread vulgar one, and social welfare is concerned with the problems of human welfare centred around the family as the basic unit in human society. The only permanent advance in protection work for women and children and young men and boys must be through immediate remedial steps without overlooking the importance of developing the right attitude in the young to the family.

The Chief Rabbi, Dr. J. H. Hertz, said that Professor Bigelow had impressed upon him the fact that there are various ways of approaching a human problem from the philosophical and meta-physical point of view, of the German to the “laboratory” method of approach which seems to be the American way, that is compiling the statistics and the case histories. Then there is the English way of approach which is quite ignorant of the philosophical aspect, and not having the means of studying it in the American way, grapples with the problem in the practical British way and that I think, he went on, is the way this Association deals with the problem.

Forty-six years ago, before any other Jewry thought of grappling with the problem, the Chief Rabbi said, a few men and women in Anglo-Jewry undertook to deal with the problem in a common-sense, practical British way. The method has some redeeming results. It is pragmatist, inasmuch as it has justified itself by results.

Professor Bigelow concluded by saying that fundamentally the problem is an educational one, the Chief Rabbi proceeded, and on many occasions I have said that noble as rescue is, prevention is better. Prevention is an educational problem. I say it is a religious-educational problem. Stanley Hall once said: “Education at one time was almost religious and while it was a masterstroke of the State and tolerance to eliminate religion from national schools we have there are deprived the children of that agency which alone can touch the springs of conduct and character. We must devise means whereby this great injustice to the child can be remedied”. At bottom, therefore, the question which faces the Association is the problem of a religious atmosphere, a moral and ethical influence in the home. the Chief Rabbi said.

Dr. Claude G. Montefiore spoke of the growing work of the Association. 1,574 cases were dealt with last year, he said, of which 776 were new cases. Acknowledging that inadequate moral and religious influences in the home were a part of the problem, Dr. Montefiore said, immediate remedial measures are necessary while bad housing and other economic factors exist.

Mr. S. Cohen, the Secretary of the Association, referring to the international work at Geneva in regard to the work for the protection of the traffic in young girls and women, said that 26 Governments had consented to eliminate the provision fixing the age of 21 as the age of consent in law, so that it should be an offence to traffic a woman of any age.

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