This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Editors of college newspapers question a prominent personality in the news. Marving Sleeper introduces the guest Ralph Whelan, Executive Director of New York City Youth Board, and the college journalists. Paulette Barrett of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, Jim Farrell of the Fordham Ram, Stewart Kampelmacher of CCNY Ticker, and Reardon Roate of Columbia College.
Farrell: Are teenage crimes being over-publicized? We have had much too much publicity. Public should be made aware, but because these three recent incidents occured so close together, media has caused hysteria.
Roate: Has major teenage crime been so concentrated in the past year at any one time? No, in fact teenage crime has decreased in 1956 over 1955.
Barrett: Would you be in favor of preventing the newspapers from getting the details of the story of juvenile deliquency outbreaks? No, not in favor of withholding any information. I am in favor of proper handling of this information. Should be put before the public without them becoming hysterical.
Kampelmacher: How can we thwart the growth of teenage crime? Should more police be hired? Yes, more police are desireable. But police can't do it alone. The community and citizens need to take responsibility. Young people have to take responsibility for their actions too. Young people that get in trouble usually don't belong to organizational programs such as young people's groups, church groups, and community centers. Do you think the homes are the main reason for juvenile deliquency? The family is the core problem when talking about causation. Proper recreational facilities and a good religious life are other factors in preventing juvenile deliquency.
Barrett: What have been the results of working with two feuding gangs in Washington Heights? Not a feud between fighting gangs. That neighborhood is undergoing rapid social change and that usually causes tensions. Are there plans to set up such groups in Wash. Hts? Yes, there is.
What is the major difference between a fighting gang and a club? Gangs have anti-social acts as their main objective, fighting or rumbles are a fighting gang's purpose. Social clubs occasionally get into trouble with another group but not it's their objective.
Sleeper: Do you ever consider breaking up the fighting gang so it is no longer a unit? No, that would be contrary to our philosophy. Natural phenomenon for young people to gather together. Rather than repress these gangs, workers work with them to convert anti-social behavior into socially acceptable behavior.
Roate: How effective has your street club programs been in decreasing teenage crime? Haven't had one major gang war between the 60 gangs we have been working with. Estimate approximately 80 and 100 gangs out there.
Farrell: Do you think moral education (apart from theological/religious education)should be included in schools and do you think a lack of that training is a cause of deliquency? Find it difficult to answert his question. No, that training belongs to the religious groups to which they belong.
Roate: Do you think that these three major crimes in just one week were publicized to force police to put more on the beat? No, it was an excellent move to deploy the 600 rookies to the streets. Has a decided effect on teenagers.
Do you think the addition of the rookies was a psychological move? No.
Barrett: Would you advocate a curfew for teenagers? No, I am opposed to curfew in principle. It's the responsibility of the family and parents. Difficult to enforce a curfew - would lead to rebellion. Would possibly consider a local curfew - only on trouble areas? No, can't impose legislation on only one group of people.
We need to remember that 97% of the children are good and come from good families. This is a total community problem. All social agencies - public, private, and religious groups should become active.
Can the Youth Board pinpoint which areas and which groups of teenagers need certain direction? We have information almost block by block and what areas need help the most.
Farrell: Referring to suggestion in Daily News "Voice of the People" feature, any good policeman knows when trouble is brewing. Youth Board and police keep each other informed. Cooperation is the solution; not moving in on people before they commit an act.
Farrell: Only 25% of the police force is on the streets. Do you think the allocation of the other 75% of the force would help? I don't think this is an emergency situation. Things are working well the way they are allocated now. Do you think the recent incidents are coincidence? Yes.
Barrett: Are we to assume the situation in New York City is not a unique one compared to other large cities? No.
How does it compare to other large cities? Proportionately, New York has a little less than other cities.
Roate: Is there any study that children in a religious school is less likely to be deliquent than children in public schools? I know of no particular study. I do know that we have fewer of children trained in religious schools at the Youth Board than of public schools.
Kampelmacher: What treatment do you recommend for these teenagers after they are caught? Ther present treatment is good. We have to work with these kids where they are, let them know they do have adult friends, help them plan constructive activities, get good jobs, and become contributing citizens.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 50166
Municipal archives id: LT2518
This is a machine-generated transcript. Text is unformatted and may contain errors.
Does New York City need a curfew as just required program pro defect of the creasing teenage crime are teenage crimes being over publicized is more police the answer to a cure for juvenile delinquency or the answers to these and other questions listen now to your city station's campus press conference in this transcribed discussion the editors of college newspapers question a prominent personality in the News Marvin flavor columnist for The New York Journal American is the moderator to introduce the panel and tonight's guest here is Mr Slater Good afternoon and welcome to another edition of campus press conference our guest today is Mr Ralph Wayland executive director of The New York City Youth Board the board is made up of twenty eight members including the commissioners the police health parks welfare corrections and the presiding justice of the domestic relations court every member of the board is in some way in contact with the problems of juvenile delinquency and teenage crime Mr Whalen our guest today is a man who was at the core of the youth sports activities where an outburst of teenage crime in the headlines recently we thought it appropriate to have Mr Whalen before our microphones today to answer questions about the immediate and long range plans of the city had to prevent further outbreaks here to learn of you Mr Whalen our campus press conference report is Paulette Barrett of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism Jim Farrow of the Fordham RAM Stuart Kaplan maker of the C.C.N.Y. taker and Riordan relative of Columbia College and what about the first question from you Jim Farrell Well Mr Whalen are teenage crimes being over publicized Gemma my opinion during the past week we have had much too much publicity in regard to teenage crimes we have had three isolated incidents of crime among youth. I believe that the public should be made aware of the seriousness of the serious of these crimes but I feel that because they came so closely together the press and other mass media picked up the cudgel and the first thing we know we had almost a has terrible situation do you think this publicity is encouraging further outbursts of teenage crime in the mind of the teenagers seeking attention in my opinion it does and such publicly could trigger off. Many difficulties in areas where we have been keeping a cap on difficult situations over a period of time of course written right wrote Mr Whelan as major teenage crime and so concentrated in the past year as it has been during the past we could at any one time. Know As A Matter of fact. In regard to teenage crime during the past year we find a decrease in teenage crime this year over one hundred fifty six over one hundred fifty five the juvenile a bureau the police department recently announced that youth crime by use I mean use under twenty one years of age rose four point five percent in the first six months of this year as against twenty two point three percent increase in one hundred fifty six so that these three isolated cases even though they came very close together over the long period over yearly pretty obscure wouldn't add up to as many as happened last year that's right Mr sleeper as a matter of fact another statistic that was given out the other day by one of the Police Commissioners indicated that for this famed period this year we had twenty two homicides among you for last year after the same time we had twenty nine so you see what happened was that the quick the closeness of these incidents is what triggered off all this of this enormous exaggerated concern Pauline parents are going back to the publicity on Mr Whalen would you be in favor of preventing newspapers from getting the details about such driven out like what the outbreaks not necessarily about the story itself but the details no I'm not in favor of withholding any information in regard to such situations what I meant favor of is. Proper are. A proper handling of this information so that the information will be put before the public but it is still controlling the public from becoming hysterical but as the only way of doing that I mean this is I think we could be done and I think that it's been done in the past and I think. That it's going to be done in the future what happened was we have had so much publicized the so much. Editorializing that it has stirred up the public to a point where they're afraid almost a walk in the streets question from STUART CAMPBELL maker or Mr Rowan how can we for teenage crime is more police the answer to this you think I'm sorry I didn't get your the problem we want the outgrowth growth of teenage crime do you think more police should be hired to deal with these teenagers or what do you think really well in my opinion Stuart. There's no question but what more police are desirable. Within the city budget limitations we are doing the best we can but it isn't just police along the community itself and our neighborhoods around the citizens themselves have to take responsibility for their own behavior and for the behavior of their own young people and young people themselves have to take responsibility for their own actions in addition to that it is my opinion that all of the social agencies and religious organizations that have contact with young people and particularly the young people if they don't have contact with because that's one of our problems one of our problems is a young people that get in trouble usually don't belong to organizations such as young people's groups church groups community centers and so forth and what we need to have I think is more action and more activity on the part of all organized social agencies and religiously just to move out and involve these young people in there are going to say tional problems do you think that the homes are the chief cause of juvenile delinquency or that the teenager should belong to the youth group as you say or other more police which you think is the paramount issue which should be the most important but I obviously are talking about causation story in terms of delinquency in my opinion the family itself is the core problem when it comes to the question of causation However the family if we have a good a healthy strong normal family we find that in many of the high delinquency areas there are thousands and thousands of kids a goal line grow up to be healthy normal individuals despite their environmental circumstances but. In these areas we need to supplement. The good healthy family life with proper recreational facilities good schools and good settlement houses and other activities that will keep these youngsters in mind in addition of course to the all important factor of a good with a just life for life on the stairwell earlier this week or last week rather it was announced that four staff members of the Youth Board were sent to Washington Heights to work with two feuding gangs there what have whatever the results of that particular. Experiment in the first place were pallette they were not the feuding gangs the situation in Washington Heights involved one group Anonymous affiliated group it was a club not a fighting gathering and one fighting group from the lower part of Washington Heights so they were not too real what we'd call real feuding gangs now we've sent our men up there to work with the police in assessing the total situation in Washington Heights they have been in contact with the members of these two groups and they have been assessing the situation in time in terms of real fighting gangs and so forth in this area what has happened is that we we all recognize that Washington Heights is undergoing a rapid cultural and social change and that we wherever we get rapid cultural and social change we get tensions we have to recognize this in our assessment of the situation and we feel that we should. Stablished a street club unit similar to the other you area units in the other areas where you are what works in the Washington area heights areas to work with the major. Gangs up there and also to do preventive work with some of the UN affiliated groups so they won't become real fighting and the social media are there plans in the making now to set up the suburban Washington Heights Yes they are as a matter of fact we still have these people there and we're going to leave them at them there temporarily until we can see what we can do in the way of making the necessary adjustments What is the major difference between a fighting gang and a club that's a quote of a fight yes occasionally but the fighting gang in our opinion is a gang that. Is grouped together the members of which are grouped together with real anti social acts as their objective and with fighting so-called rumbles as their objectives and then affiliate a group is a group of kids hang out together just like any club would do but occasionally gets into trouble with another group down the street because of they can use the same baseball to feel the same swimming pool and so forth that they occasionally get into trouble but not necessarily have as its purpose. Fighting and then the social acts with there were always there when you mention a fighting game have you ever directed your attention to breaking up that fighting guy so that it is no longer a unit. No that is would be contrary to our philosophy of the sleeper we feel that it's a natural normal phenomenon for young people together they gather and we have seen that you see that every day of your life in colleges high schools for eternity sororities and everything else and we think it's a it's helpful to. Young young people to have a group to which they can go on to our technique has been rather than reap crashing repressing these gangs to move man and sand workers Street Club workers into the area where they live to hangouts where they frequent to establish contact with them and gradually convert their Addie's social activities into socially acceptable activities at least Rearden role it's a question that we asked originally Mr Whalen just how effective a just require program been and are decreasing teenage crime well. Read and during the past two years we can say that we have had we haven't had one major and I keep my fingers crossed every time I say there is one major gang war between the sixty different gangs that we have been working with city are expanding that number all the time looting the program has been expanded constantly during the past two years we are now working with sixty of the major fighting Yang's in the city and we estimate there are approximately between eighty and one hundred such games we hope that as time goes on and as the city. Budget permits that we will be able to increase our staff so that we will be working with all of these major gangs and not only all of the major fighting games but also there will be able to increase staff so that we can reach these games before they. Become fighting against Jim Farrell. Since the days of modern methods of more efficient education have forced the family almost to abdicate or lose the habit of child training in the family as you point out has been the source of at least the moral education of the child since time immemorial do you think that this modern and more efficient way of educating the child would also assume some sort of responsibility to train the child morally do you think moral education should be included in the schools or that lack of same has been one cause for juvenile delinquency I find a little difficult to have to answer that question Jim but I would say this that I am in complete accord with the release time programs that are being conducted. In the various schools I mean apart from just the theological or religious education I mean since we couldn't get any sectarian system into our public school system under our state constitution. Shouldn't some sort of moral training be included in the ordinary secular school program that I would hesitate to add to my female I offer top of my head I would say no I would think that the religious and moral education belongs with the particular organization of our faith our religious group to which that person belongs and I think they can do it most of what actually belongs to him then I think it's the responsibility of these religious groups to reach out to these I'm affiliated groups of young people and their families and then evolve them in the religious life of their church or temple or synagogue since these children might be sort of hesitant of affiliation with a religious group don't you think that the government itself has some sort of responsibility to these president's children I think that all of us and community life whether it's government or private agencies. Should recognize we did you know as a an important factor in working with young people and the meadow what doe weigh the what doe way we go I enter to reach them that as we work with them we should encourage them to become members of their own particular we did just group ridden really well Mr Whelan just briefly stepping from the steps of the church down to the sidewalk you mention an honest Oracle attitude before on the part of some of the people of New York City Don't you feel they might be justified in this somewhat historical attitude of there are three these three major crimes all in one week might they have been just increased all the while unless the publicity was given to these crimes to force the police to put more on the beat No I don't think that. That that would be so. My feeling is that these incidents happen it's as rapid succession and that it triggered off this hysteria but we have had incidents. Spaced much wider apart and there has been no marked hysteria about it I think that it was an excellent move on the part of the police commissioner to. Deploy. Six hundred rookies to the streets because it had decidedly salutary effect on the public that every move was being made to allay their fears and times their own protection. And also I think it. Has a decided effect on the teenagers as they as they move around look there are more people around to keep an eye on you when so forth and just hesitate about getting you know when and for the difficulties you think the addition of the rookies was just a psychological move in other words no I think it was not only psychological but it was very profitable in terms of additional. Patrolman on the street giving it might have been another attention getting trigger by publicity for home for the teenager or other words were so big now we're not only getting publicity we're getting all the rookie cops there with us you think this might trigger off some belligerent attitude on there no I don't think so I think I think that the dogs have become more hysterical about this than the teenagers and they're well into this putting the rookies out on the street was more or less of an emergency measure would you advocate using another emergency measure a curfew for teenagers. Prahlad I have been I'll be opposed to a few lives and the concept came to my attention years ago and. For several reasons one I don't believe it and I could if you in principle because I think that it's the responsibility of the family and the parents to see to it that their children have good habits in terms of coming in in the evening and so forth and I think that their primary responsibility and number two for children that are hanging around the street said ten eleven o'clock at night very often if you had a curfew and sent sent them home and maybe you would find their parents wouldn't be there either. Number three that the how I have great question how you could ever enforce a curfew with teenagers I get really bad you know your hands from teenagers themselves you know. This was done. Mr well and you mentioned that they were the master bedroom part of the teenager's if a curfew were imposed but don't you feel that since New York itself is a melting pot city that there are so many changes being undergoing in the entire city both cultural and all different kinds that a curfew would be necessary so if the home atmosphere isn't provided by many of the families of the city the city should should step in itself and take over No I don't because I think we're losing complete perspectives of this whole situation we must remember that ninety six and ninety seven percent of families think kids up perfectly are right in this city and it's only a small three percent that we're talking about. And I think that's one of the difficulties and one of the things that people forget when we get into this kind of a situation glamour is given to a less dramatic tragedies that happen and everybody forgets about all of good things that are going on in the ark and all a good young people know all the good families and to superimpose a few hundred on the total population because three percent half may be on the line seems to be a little ridiculous Well then what would you possibly consider a localized curfew only in the tribal areas are only eleven I don't know I don't think there and I don't even then pause legislation on one group of people and not opposing them another group of people and so forth a lot is made in respect to to to provide law and order and protection and and to protect the rights of people the total the top of the total population not just a few but one of the six who have next week. The mayor Wagners called a conference of the civic church leaders youth leaders in the city to see what can be done further to accelerate your programs. I assume that you will be there at that meeting That's right yes. Could you give us a little preview of what you might contribute to that during the meeting while. And you're the composition of the group that has to be invited. What I would say probably is what I've been saying to you people today is that in my opinion that this is a total community problem that that total community has to be involved in doing something about it not just government alone not just police alone not as you boil on but also this. And and all social agencies not just public agencies but private agencies and religious agencies neighborhood council settlement houses any kind of organized group that we have that's legitimate legitimate and good and should become active and get out into their neighborhoods and reach out and try to involve young people in their activities and to work with them and to help them plan constructive activities for themselves but was there any way that the Youth Board can pinpoint for these various civic and church organizations which areas and which groups of teenagers need certain direction yes we have at the youth blog complete statistics and complete lines almost block by block of where the trouble areas are in the city and we also know you age groups of these kids and where they live and what areas need help the most well is that what you will recommend there that they go into these areas specifically and give them the blocks and practically the kids names who need help mama to save some of my fire until then you know and. And but I would be a real consideration question from Jim Carroll and this just this past Thursday in the much popularized feature of the Daily News the voice of the people a correspondent Hussein himself a policeman as that one answer to the juvenile delinquency problem should be given to the police force namely the power to break up mobs or groups as mobs of three or more juveniles are used do you think that such an ordinance should be placed on the books and put in operation. I don't think there is a need for such a new and I think that the policemen are doing wonderful job I think that they are working with all agencies in the city I think that they have sufficient power. To enforce law and order and I think that when necessary and legitimate they exercise Well the size police and pointed out that any good policeman knows when trouble is brewing and if he had the power to break it up at that stage when it did hit three or more giving him some more arbitrary power he could best head it off this is the opinion of one policeman I think that the that the way that the police working with the Youth Board. And the youth board with the police in terms of keeping each other informed as to the activities of potential of teenagers who are potentially. Involved are about to be involved in difficulties and so forth that kind of activity and cooperation is the essence of this thing and I think. Moving in people before they commit an act and attempting to break them up question Stuart can't like or going back to the meetings that were one you think this is just been called by the Mayor Wagner to allay the fears of the community or that it's really needed right now I think the. I can't speak for the mayor obviously but I don't think it's just to allay the just allay the fears of people I think that. That would be a constructive use. Of this situation in order to activate all agencies and all people to even extending them selves for there to help young people question from written really almost well as been pointed out in the past week that only twenty five percent of the police force are actually patrolling the streets at the present time do you feel that some allocation of the other seventy five percent of the streets of New York City would be of major importance or help to you in your work you see I don't think that this is my get back to the fact that I don't think this is an emergency situation that we have on hand and I think that things have never been out of control in relation to the teenage situation in this city and I think that this whole business of publicity and everything else has gotten. As is giving the wrong impression the fact that. We have a real situation on our hands now we have we've been working very well on the police and working very well the way they operate at the present time well then in the light of this. Percentage wise decrease that you cited earlier in the program how do you explain this sudden outbreak other than coincidence it is coincidence nothing more than that do you feel that the later two attacks were triggered off by the publicity given to the first of the three No I think they're completely isolated. But I think that continued publishing and the status that the teenage fighting gangs might get because of the Publish the might trigger of gang was and rumbles and so forth in other parts of the city I'm as we come down and look upon this situation objectively and handle a such a Mr Where are we then to assume that the situation in New York is not a unique one that's the same exists in another large cities and in the United States where there are major changes social cultural etc Yes that's an absolute fact but certainly how does the New York compare with the other large cities which a cargo Los Angeles fires teenage crime do you I think proportionately more of an would find that proportionately probably New York has a little less and some of the other cities a visit written through it almost a well has there ever been a study made or any factual knowledge made public to the idea that children trained in early discourse. Tend to avoid away from drug link and say well those trained in the public schools of our city are those that form the major gangs of our city. I know of no particular study written I do know however that young people who are trained and religious schools lament what faith it is. That we get fewer of them. In our work at the Youth Board than we do of the young people in other schools STUART CAMPBELL Michael for what type of treatment do you recommend for these teenagers after their court as fighting members of the gangs do you think the present. Treatment of them is good. Well I think that the present treatment of them is good and I think what we need of it is more of it is that that we have to move in and work with these kids where they are we have to. Gain a relationship with them we have to. Let them know that we're there to help them let them know that they do have adult friends because many of these kids have had very unpleasant an unhappy experience with adults and then move ahead in terms of helping them plan constructive leisure time activities get good jobs become contributing healthy citizens in their own neighborhoods and one of your questions what the work of the youth broadly eased is the city had more and more at least facilities available the yes playgrounds playgrounds but but in this many other facilities too because recreation is now answering of the well and but our time is just about up with teenage crime and juvenile delinquency in the headlines these days we have brought you an interview with Mr Ralph Whalen the executive director of The New York City Youth Board interviewing him were college editors Paul what Barrett of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism Jim Farrel of the Fordham lexigram STUART CAMPBELL My proof of the C.C.N.Y. taker and Riordan wrote of the Columbia College Many thanks for tuning in in a very pleasant week to you all editors of college newspapers have just interviewed a prominent personality in the news on campus press conference Marvins labor columnist for The New York Journal American is the moderator of this series we invite your comments on the program please mail them to campus press conference W N Y C New York seven day with us again next Sunday afternoon at four for campus press conference to transcribe public affairs feature of your city station.