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“Help for wayward children”: child guidance in 1930s Australia

“Help for wayward children”: child guidance in 1930s Australia Purpose – Historical studies of the expert management of childhood in Australia often make passing reference to the establishment of child guidance clinics. Yet beyond acknowledgement of their founding during the interwar years, there has been little explication of the dynamics of their institutional development. The purpose of this article is to examine the introduction of child guidance in Australia against the backdrop of the international influences that shaped local developments. Design/methodology/approach – The article investigates the establishment of child guidance clinics in Melbourne and Sydney in the 1930s. In doing so, it explores the influence of American philanthropy, the promise of prevention that inspired the mental hygiene movement, and some of the difficulties faced in putting its child guidance ideals into practice in Australia. Findings – American philanthropy played an important role in the transnational carriage of ideas about mental hygiene and child guidance into Australia. However, it was state support of child guidance activities that proved critical to its establishment. In addition to institutional developments, what also emerges as important in the 1930s is the traction gained in the broader realm of ideas about “adjustment” and mental health, particularly in relation to the efficacy of early intervention and multidisciplinary approaches to treating problems of childhood. Originality/value – In tracing its early development, the article argues for the importance of understanding child guidance not only in terms of its administrative successes and failures, but also more broadly in terms of how early intervention as an influential mode of thought and practice took root internationally. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png History of Education Review Emerald Publishing

“Help for wayward children”: child guidance in 1930s Australia

History of Education Review , Volume 41 (1): 16 – Jun 22, 2012

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2012 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
0819-8691
DOI
10.1108/08198691211235545
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – Historical studies of the expert management of childhood in Australia often make passing reference to the establishment of child guidance clinics. Yet beyond acknowledgement of their founding during the interwar years, there has been little explication of the dynamics of their institutional development. The purpose of this article is to examine the introduction of child guidance in Australia against the backdrop of the international influences that shaped local developments. Design/methodology/approach – The article investigates the establishment of child guidance clinics in Melbourne and Sydney in the 1930s. In doing so, it explores the influence of American philanthropy, the promise of prevention that inspired the mental hygiene movement, and some of the difficulties faced in putting its child guidance ideals into practice in Australia. Findings – American philanthropy played an important role in the transnational carriage of ideas about mental hygiene and child guidance into Australia. However, it was state support of child guidance activities that proved critical to its establishment. In addition to institutional developments, what also emerges as important in the 1930s is the traction gained in the broader realm of ideas about “adjustment” and mental health, particularly in relation to the efficacy of early intervention and multidisciplinary approaches to treating problems of childhood. Originality/value – In tracing its early development, the article argues for the importance of understanding child guidance not only in terms of its administrative successes and failures, but also more broadly in terms of how early intervention as an influential mode of thought and practice took root internationally.

Journal

History of Education ReviewEmerald Publishing

Published: Jun 22, 2012

Keywords: Child guidance; Mental hygiene; Psychiatry; Psychology; Australia; Commonwealth fund; Carnegie Corporation

References