- boys and girls out of school and out of work,
- social maladjustment,
How to Cite
The paper discusses the findings of research conducted by the Department of Criminology of the Polish Academy Sciences’ Institute of Legal Sciences among Warsaw 15 - 17 years-olds who left school but were not gainfully employed, and were subject to the requirement of compulsory vocational training. The problem of this category of youth is of considerable social importance since it is closely connected with the problem of delinquent or socially at risk youth.
In 1967 and 1968 the educational authorities in Warsaw registered 5,749 boys and 2,477 girls aged 15 - 17 who were “out of school and out of work”. The Department’s surveys embraced a sample of only a proportion of the youth subject to registration, but it included in all probability a large majority of the boys and girls whose normal education had suffered the greatest disturbances:
1) ones who had completed only four, five or six grades of elementary school and had been directed to newly organized two-year vocational schools; and 2) ones who had completed the 7th grade but had failed to qualify for admission to the 8th grade or to a normal vocational school and had been directed to newly organized one-year vocational schools.
The object of organizing these one- and two-year vocational schools was to give the kind of children who drop out of the normal educational stream the chance of learning a trade and also those attending the two-year schools the possibility of continuing their elementary education. It should be noted that in the one-year schools classes are held only twice a week, and in the two-year schools three times a week. The remaining days are given over to practical in-work training.
In the 1967/68 school year the Department’s inquiry was conducted among boys attending one- and two-year building and electrical schools and a one-year motor mechanics school; they accounted for 52 per cent of the boys with the greatest degree of school retardation. In the following year, 1968/69, the subjects were boys attending one- and two-year building and electrical schools, to which 60 per cent of boys in this category had been directed.
In 1967 a sample for each school was drawn from a complete list of the pupils in attendance, providing a sample of 180 boys. In 1968 the survey embraced all the boys (a total of 252) at these two schools.
In 1968/69 the inquiry was extended to include girls as well: the subjects were all the girls enrolled at a one-year catering school (70) and a one-year clothing school (40).
As regards the age of the boys assigned to these vocational courses, 43 per cent were over 17 in the first survey, and 23 per cent in the second; the remainder were aged 15 and 16.
Girls over 17 formed 31 per cent of the sample.
The selection for the Department’s survey of pupils whose normal education had probably suffered the most serious disruptions made it reasonable to suppose that distinct symptoms of social maladjustment would be found among them. To ascertain the incidence of such symptoms and the size of the category of youth with clearly delinquent tendencies or records was one of the chief objects of the inquiry.
However, the working hypothesis was that 15 - I7-year-olds “out of school and out of work” were recruited from among the sort of boys and girls who had in the first place had serious problems with the elementary school course and that these difficulties had played a large part in their social maladjustment. As regards the degree of their social maladjustment it seemed likely that they were far less demoralized than the majority of juveniles with criminal convictions and tendencies to recidivism.
In the inquiry whose findings are discussed below the following breaches of the fundamental rules of society or the standards of behaviour expected of children and youth were considered evidence of maladjustment:
1) persistent truancy; 2) staying out of school and out of work; 3) keeping demoralized company; 4) running away from home; 5) excessive drinking; 6) delinquency; 7) sexual promiscuity among the girls.
Account was further taken of symptoms indicating serious school maladjustment: considerable school retardation and frequent commencement and discontinuance of attendance at different schools.
Only those subjects of the inquiry were classified as maladjusted in the case of whom evidence was obtained that they were given to conduct of a certain type and that they regularly displayed a combination of deviational symptoms and not only a single isolated one.
It should be indicated that in view of the impossibility of conducting medical and psychological examinations crucial aspects of the genesis and mechanism of difficulties at school and behaviour disorders could not be properly investigated.
The inquiry had necessarily to be restricted to symptomatic and not etiological criteria of maladjustment. These were, however, enough to identify on the basis of the degree of neglect of school work and specific behaviour certain boys and girls as being socially maladjusted to some extent or another ‒ which was the main purpose of the research undertaken among this category of youth and made it largely possible to single out the children in need of care and attention.
Recourse was had in the inquiry to opinions about the subjects collected from their elementary and vocational schools and from the work-places in which they underwent practical training, to court and police records, etc. Tn addition, in 1967/68 background interviews were conducted in the homes of the subjects. Both in the first and second survey tests were made of their level of achievement in Polish and mathematics at schools and of their intelligence on the Raven’s Progressive Matrices.
The inquiry was supplemented by follow-up studies which for the boys in each of the successive years embraced a period of 2 2/3 years and l 2/3 years (including the period of vocational school attendance).
The paper in question runs to 140 pp. of print and consists of a number of contributions: Introduction; Section 1, devoted chiefly to the criteria of social maladjustment among children and youth (written by Z. Ostrihanska); Section 2, discussing the findings of the studies of 432 boys (written by H. Kołakowska-Przełomiec); Section 3, reporting on the studies of 110 girls (written by Z. Ostrihanska, in association with A. Kossowska); Section 4, containing the results of the tests of the boys’ and girls’ achievements in Polish and mathematics (written by M. Marek); and a resume of the results of all the research and the conclusions to be drawn from it (written by S. Batawia).
- Batawia S., Problematyka młodzieży “nie uczącej się i nie pracującej się”, „Nowa Szkoła” 1969, nr 6.
- Kołakowska-Przełomiec H., Rozmiary nieprzystosowania społecznego u nieletnich “nie uczących się i nie pracujących”, „Studia Prawnicze” 1970, nr 25.
- Kołakowska-Przełomiec H., Wyniki badań 180 chłopców skierowanych do rocznych i dwuletnich szkół zawodowych, „Nowa Szkoła” 1969, nr 6.