In looking at the teeth and throat a little wooden stick is used to push down the tongue. There should be a stick for every child, so that infection cannot possibly be carried from one to the other. If this is impossible, the stick should be dipped in an antiseptic such as boric acid or listerine. If, because of swollen tonsils, there is but a little slit open in the throat, or if teeth are decayed, the mark is Y or B. The whole examination takes only a couple of minutes, but the physician often finds out in this short time facts that will save a boy and his parents a great deal of trouble. Very often this examination tells a story that overworked mothers have studiously concealed by bright ribbons and clean clothes. I remember one little girl of fourteen who looked very prosperous, but the physician found her so thin that he was sure that for some time she had eaten too little, and called her anæmic. He later found that the mother had seven children whom she was trying to clothe and shelter and feed with only ten dollars a week. A way was found to increase her earnings and to give all the children better living conditions,—all because of the short story told by the examination card. In another instance the card's story led to the discovery of recent immigrant parents earning enough, but, because unacquainted with American ways and with their new home, unable to give their children proper care.

Looking For Enlarged Tonsils And Bad Teethnote The Mouth Breather Waiting

The most extensive inquiry yet made in the United States as to the physical condition of school children is that conducted by the board of health in New York City since 1905. From March, 1905, to January 1, 1908, 275,641 children have been examined, and 198,139 or 71.9 per cent have been found to have defects, as shown in Table VI.

Table VI

Physical Examination of School Children—performed by the Department of Health in the Borough of Manhattan, 1905-1907

Number of children examined275,641100
Number of children needing treatment198,13971.9
Defects found:  
Diseased anterior or posterior cervical glands125,55545.5
Cardiac disease3,3851.2
Pulmonary disease2,8411.0
Skin disease4,5571.6
Deformity of spine, chest, or extremities4,8921.7
Defective vision58,49421.2
Defective hearing3,5401.2
Obstructed nasal breathing43,61315.8
Defective teeth136,14649.0
Deformed palate3,6251.3
Hypertrophied tonsils75,43127.4
Posterior nasal growths46,63116.9
Defective mentality7,0902.5

It is generally believed that New York children must have more defects than children elsewhere. If this assumption is wrong, if children in other parts of the United States are as apt to have eye defects, enlarged tonsils, and bad teeth as the children of the great metropolis, then the army of children needing attention would be seven out of ten, or over 14,000,000.

Whether these figures overstate or understate the truth, the school authorities of the country should find out. The chances are that the school in which you are particularly interested is no exception. To learn what the probable number needing attention is, divide your total by ten and multiply the result by seven.

The seriousness of every trouble and its particular relation to school progress and to the general public health will be explained in succeeding chapters. The point to be made here is that the examination of the school child discloses in advance of epidemics and breakdowns the children whose physical condition makes them most likely to "come down" with "catching diseases," least able to withstand an attack, less fitted to profit fully from educational and industrial opportunity.