PHYSICAL Coming more directly to some of the social prob lems of childhood centering in the school, it is nec essary to discover and remedy the physical defects of children. Some of these are due to neglect of the pre-natal, natal, or post-natal problems of in fancy, to overworked and undernourished parents, or to ignorance of the conditions essential to a right start for children. Others may not show them selves, or may not be remediable, until earlier in fancy is past. Medical inspection of school chil dren to discover and correct such defects is becom ing so common that any school system which does not provide for it is recognized as antiquated.
Many schools, I regret to say, are antiquated. Our standards, our common notions of what is the right and reasonable thing, move much faster than our practice, which is dependent on appropria tions and administrative details and unlucky acci dents and the slow process of bringing large num bers of people to understand what is to be done precisely and how precisely to do it.
Among the common features of medical school inspection and treatment of defects are the removal of adenoids and, when necessary, of tonsils; the correction of astigmatism by carefully fitted glasses —not such as can be picked up cheaply from a ten cent counter or a peddler's pack, but such as are found by a competent refractionist to be required; the correction of spinal curvature—by a desk ad justment when that is sufficient, by a mechanical appliance when necessary—and orthopedic cor rection and treatment of other crippling disabili ties; the cleaning of scalps; the isolation of in fectious skin and eye diseases and proper treat ment of the victims; the feeding of undernourished children; and the exposure of all to fresh air, but especially open-air classes for those who are anemic and susceptible and so easily poisoned by foul air.
Equally justified with such medical inspection is instruction in sex hygiene, very generally and very delicately in the schools, very explicitly and very drastically when that is necessary in the home or the doctor's office. The prevention of venereal disease, prostitution, and their consequences in society rests upon the foundation-stone of instruc tion in childhood. The instruction which provides such a foundation is not instruction in sex pathol ogy or in the ways of vice. The instruction appro priate to childhood and potent to make or keep the coming generation secure is instruction in hygiene, which is health, in the ways of health and life, in the wholesome and serene enjoyment which comes from industry, self-restraint, and a social conscience.