She is told that other people breathe through the nose, and that perhaps the reason she dislikes school and does not feel as she used to about play is that she cannot breathe through her nose as she used to. She is shown that her nose is stopped up by a spongy substance, as big as the end of her little finger, which obstruction can be easily removed. She is shown adenoids and enlarged tonsils that have been removed from some other girl, and is so impressed with the before-operation and after-operation contrast and by the story of the other girl's rapid increase in wages, that she and her mother both decide not to wait for the adenoids to disappear by absorption. After the operation they come back with proof that the trouble is gone, and get the "papers." Similar instruction is given when defects of vision seriously interfere with a child's prospects of getting ahead in his work, or when evidence of incipient tuberculosis makes it criminal to put a child in a store or factory.
The Grenfell Association Finds Mouth Breathers At Work In Labrador
No law as yet authorizes the health officer of Rochester to refuse work certificates to children physically unfit to become wage earners. A higher law than that which any legislature can pass or revoke, has given Dr. Goler power over children and parents, namely, interest in children and knowledge of the industrial handicap that results from physical defects. This higher law authorizes every health officer in the United States to examine the school child before issuing a work certificate, to tell the child and his parents what defects need to be removed, for what trades he is physically unfitted, what trades will not increase his physical weakness, and to what trade he is physically adapted.
We should not forget that a large proportion of our children never apply for work certificates; some because they never intend to work; some because they expect to remain in school until sixteen or later; some because they live on farms, in small towns, or in cities and states where prohibition of child labor is not enforced. Because there is no reason for this large proportion of children to visit a board of health, some substitute must be found. This substitute has been already suggested by principals and district superintendents in New York City, who claim that the natural place for the examination of children is the school and not health headquarters. Developing the idea that the school should pronounce the child's fitness to leave school and to engage in work, we are led to the suggestion that the state, which compels evidence that every child, rich or poor, is being taught during the compulsory school age, shall also at the age of fourteen or sixteen require evidence that the child is physically fit to use his education, and that it shall not, because of preventable ill health, prove a losing investment.
Parochial and private schools, the ultra-religious and ultra-rich, may resent for a time public supervision of the physical condition of children who do not ask for work certificates. This position will be short-lived, because however much we may disagree about society's right to control a child's act after his physical defects are discovered, few of us will question the state's duty to tell that child and his parents the truth about his physical needs before it accepts his labor or permits him to go to college, to "come out," to "enter society," or to live on an income provided by others. Thus an invaluable commencement present can be given by the state to children in country schools and to those compelled to drop out of fourth or fifth grades of city schools.
The Health Department's Clinical Care And Home Instruction Come After Wage Losses, While Work Certificates Precede Breakdowns From Tuberculosis
A brief test of this method of helping children, such as is now being made by several boards of health at the instance of the National Bureau of Labor, will prove conclusively that parents are grateful for the timely discovery of these defects which handicap because of their existence, not because of their discovery. Of the cadets preparing for war at West Point, it has recently been decided that those "who in the physical examinations are found to have deteriorated below the prescribed physical standard will be dropped from the rolls of the academy." Shall not cadets preparing for an industrial life and citizenship be given at least a knowledge of an adequate physical standard? To allow the school child to deteriorate whether before or after going to work is only to waste potential citizenship. Citizens who use themselves up in the mere getting of a living have no surplus strength or interest for overcoming incompetence in civic business, or for achieving the highest aim of citizenship,—the art of self-government for the benefit of all the governed.