Psychologists Attack Marianna Treatment
By Jane Wood. Reporter of the Miami News
March 11, 1958
Psychologists of Dade County today condemned the policy of beating boys at Marianna
Industrial School, Florida's institution for juvenile delinquents.
In a letter to Gov. LeRoy Collins, the southeastern Florida Psychological Association,
professional organization of this area's psychologists with doctorate degrees recommends
a state board be created to set up a program that will eliminate corporal punishment state
The statement of the area's psychologists drew out a hot debate following a Miami news
series last week in which it was revealed that Beating of boys, described before the U.S.
Senate Committee on Juvenile Delinquency, goes on at the Marianna school.
Association members discussed the problem, and appointed a committee to draw up the
statement of policy of the group. The policy letter to Gov. Collins is signed by Dr. Charles A.
Stenger,president of the Association.
We do not question the sincerity of purpose of Mr. Dozier, superintendent of the Florida
Industrial School for Boys at Marianna, but we do strenuously object to his approach. Not
only is the program of implementing a policy of systematic corporal punishment in an
institution setting fraught with danger, but the underlying principle is in conflict with
well-established psychological factors, says the letter.
Dangers are itemized. First is the actual administering of the punishment will gravitate to
sadistically inclined individuals. This is particularly true because persons without such
underlying needs will usually avoid such duties. The end result is brutality.
Second danger is that the infliction of pain by a person in authority can lead to masochistic
attitudes in which sexual experience becomes associated with pain and submission.
Theconditions under which the punishment is administered at Marianna actually encourages
the development of such reactions in the boy
Third is that the systematic policy of corporal punishment tends to become an automatic
way of dealing with very different types of rule infractions, simply because it is expeditious
for an institution to handle problems in a single way.
The fourth danger is that these standards of behavior are likely to become the same for all
boys regardless of their age is. The letter points out that the fact that the younger boys
received most of the beatings at Marianna would attest to the fact that discipline was
keyed to the older boys.
In such a system,the fifth danger itemized is that punishment tends to become mechanically
administered, without adequate consideration for the personality of the individual child.
Even though officials at Marianna insists they did weigh such factors, says the letter, they
relied on their own unprofessional judgment and did not seriously utilize the help of
psychologists on their staff for this information.
A Threat to the Younger
As the six danger, punishment administered impersonally by powerful males can result in
younger boys developing such a fear of authority and feeling of hopelessness that it renders
them incapable of self sufficiency and constructive social action.
Seven, older boys tend to react to the punishment as a test of their ability to stand up to
whatever authority metes out. Thereby actually strengthening delinquent attitude.
The correct approach lies in withdrawal of privileges and social approval, and, if used
properly, can be successful with a considerable proportion of the boys, says the statement.
The psychologists of the Dade County group offered Gov. Collins their cooperation and
services in any way that might be helpful.