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Juvenile Delinquency – ever since the end of World War 2 the reports of a spike in crime among pre-teens throughout America was being reported at an ever-escalating rate. The crimes ranged anywhere from petty theft to armed robbery, with more than the average number of murders tossed in. By the end of the 1940s statistics were beginning to alarm communities and calls for more effort to be made in the area of crime prevention were ringing in City Halls all across the country.
CBS Radio in 1949 devoted an entire week to this relatively recent wave in crime. As part of its “You And . . .” series, interviews and discussions with various civic and law enforcement individuals in an effort to find a solution, or at least bring the issue to light on a national basis.
Fingers were pointed at parents – lack of skills, a decided disengagement in the home, a rising divorce rate and the subsequent increase in single-parent homes – the growing number of youth and the lack of constructive outlets.
The issue of Juvenile Delinquency eventually wound up being the stuff of Pop Culture – books, movies and magazine articles, all focused on misunderstood or wild-unsupervised youth became a hugely popular phenomenon throughout the 1950s, starting in the late 1940s.
It would certainly escalate over time, but in 1949 it was still a minor enough concern that well-meaning and misinformed authority figures attempted to trivialize and downplay what was to become a huge social shift in America and the blossoming Baby Boom generation – not to mention the growing disenchantment with life in the city and the Civil Rights movement, which added the extra concern that racially-charged violence was ramping up and spreading throughout urban centers.
Interesting and brave times – not very much in the Leave It To Beaver mould, and even though many maintain it was a period of wistful nostalgia, like many periods of time in history; they are often painted with strokes of innocence which did not exist in reality. Just sayin’.
Here is You And . . .Crime as it was broadcast on December 13, 1949 from CBS Radio.