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Child-Saving Movement

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Platt provides an historical analysis of the Child-Saving Movement in Illinois at the turn of the last century. Certainly the movement represents a very important philosophy of reform, culminating in the Juvenile Court Act of 1899. The legislation established the first juvenile court with specific jurisdiction over “dependent, neglected, and delinquent children.” Platt underlines the ambiguity of this significant reform effort, arguing that it represented a relatively conservative, middle class consolidation of political interests and NOT a radical departure from the philosophy of social control. Discuss the three conclusions of the article (p. 405) which expose the conservative bias of the legislation. In particular, just how “critical” can reform efforts be in the face of political conflict among community interest groups?

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