There is no sacred right to work when our work involves injury to ourselves and to our neighbor. Work at the expense of health is an unjustifiable tax upon the state. It is the duty of society to protect itself against such depletion of national efficiency.

Three classes of workmen need special attention: (1) those who are physically unfit to work; (2) those who are physically unfitted for the work they are doing; (3) those who are subjected to unhealthful surroundings while at work. Viewing these three classes from the standpoint of their neighbors, we have three social rights that should be enforced by law: (1) the right to freedom from unhealthy work; (2) the right to work fitted to the body; (3) the right to healthy surroundings at work.

It is undoubtedly true that just as the sick child may be found at the head of his class, so unhealthy men and women are often good business managers, good salesmen, good typewriters, successful capitalists. They excel, however, not because of their ill health, but in spite of it, excepting of course those instances where men and women, because of ill health, have devoted to business an attention that would have been given to recreation if bad health had not deprived recreation of its pleasure. As statistics in school have proved that the majority of mentally superior children are also physically superior, so statistics will probably prove that the number of the "sick superior" among the working classes is very small, while the danger of inefficiency that comes from physical defect is very great.

There is one time in the individual's working life when the state may properly step in and demand an inventory of physical resources, and that is when the child asks the state for permission to go to work. Strategically, this is probably the most important of all contact as yet provided between society and the future wage earner. Here at the threshold of his industrial career the boy may be told for what work he is physically fitted, what physical defects need to be remedied, what physical precautions he needs to take, in order to do justice to himself and his opportunity.

Every year from two to three million children leave the public schools of this country to join the army of workers. The percentage of those recruits who have physical defects needing attention is undoubtedly great; how great we shall never know until the benefits of physical examination are given to all of them. What steps is your state taking to ascertain the physical fitness of the children who present themselves each year for working papers? How does it insure itself against the risk of their defective eyesight, chorea, deafness, or general debility? Does it inform children of their defects, or tell them how they may increase their earning power by correcting these defects? What effort does it make to induce children to avoid dangerous trades, or trades that are particularly dangerous for their physiques?

At the close of school last spring I had my secretary look in upon the New York board of health and see what demands that city makes upon its boys and girls before allowing them to drive its machinery, to run its elevators, to match its colors, to sew on its buttons, to set its type, to carry its checks to the bank. The officer at the door of the room where the children were being examined, greeted her as follows: "You must bring your child with you; bring his birth certificate or swear that he is fourteen years old, and bring a signed statement from his teacher that he has been in school for one hundred and thirty consecutive days within twelve months." "Is there no physical examination or test?" she asked. "No, no," he answered impatiently. Yet the board of health certifies that "said child has in our opinion reached the normal development of a child of its age, and is in sound health and is physically able to perform the work which it intends to do." In addition the blank calls for place and date of birth, color of hair and of eyes, height, weight, and facial marks. Volunteer societies in practically every state in the Union have been working for years to have it made a criminal offense to employ a child who has not been in school a minimum of days after a stated age (12, 13, 14, 15). Even in New York, however, the center of this agitation, no strong demand was made upon the board of health to apply a physical-fitness test as well as an age test until 1908 when examination for working papers was added to the programme for child hygiene. Yet who does not know girls and boys of sixteen less fit for factory or shop work than other boys and girls of twelve? It is the fetich of age which has made possible the "democracy" that permits a child of fourteen to work all day on condition that he go to school at night!

Children Enlisting In The Industrial Army

Waiting To Be Examined For Working Papers An Excellent Opportunity For Physical-Fitness Tests