Courtesy of Roger Kiser & Andrew Puel
Researched at Jacksonville Nov 2010
The Trouble With Boys
By Arthur G. Dozier Superintendent
Florida Industrial School for Boys,
Delivered at Big Brother Lunch May 20, 1947
The following excerpts from the above caption addressed by Mr. Dozier. I am sure the high spots of his
earnest and inspiring presentation will be welcomed by those who were present, and particularly welcome
by those who were unable to be present.
After pointing out that the boys from this country are our responsibility, that it is our concern to do all in our
power to avoid the necessity of sending them to the training school, that they will all come back to us -- Mr.
In those cases, you still have a fine opportunity for service, for this commitment represents only a
temporary removal of the boy from your city, and he will need much supervision, help and encouragement
to cushion his transitional period, from institutional life to reinstatement in the community life. Here again,
the extending of this sort of help doesn't only have rich rewards in human values, but it is also sound
business from the standpoint of protecting the investment which the state of Florida has made in
attempting to rehabilitate the boy. Then, too, if for the lack of this sort of assistance upon returning home,
the boy continues to have conflicts with the law, there is great danger that he will become for a long time, a
ward of the state at great expense.
Mr. Dozier then gave examples of the different types of boys who come to the school. They are not all from
the other side of the track. But some come from the over privileged, overindulged class, for the lack of
money is not at all the cause of their trouble, rather to the contrary. Concerning this diversity of types Mr.
Dozier goes on to say;
The average enrollment in your state's boys school for the last six months of 1946 was 395 boys. Today
there are 486 boys at the school,which represents an increase of about 16% in a period of slightly over six
months. Sixty six of these boys are from your own County of Duval and will within a period of 1 to 12
months, be returning to your county to live. (white and colored)
We recognize another problem at Marianna that cannot be cured by an increased appropriation to the
school, IE, a need for a proper interpretation of the schools training program to the people in the
communities of the state where our boys will live after they leave the school, so that these boys were
returned home under favorable circumstances, and not be ostracized or stigmatized. People fully
acquainted with our efforts with these boys while they are under our care feel that their program in the
school has been profitable to them, but I have had the experience of having boys beg me with tears in their
eyes to permit them to re-enroll in the school because of the cold shoulder they received upon returning to
their home community
Since all of us cannot go to the training school: Mr. Dozier, let's see how things are thereby taking an
average boy, say, named Johnny, through the school. If Johnny is like the average boy at the institution,
he will be 15 years of age, and the odds will be great that he has some that he has, come from a rural area
rather than an urban area, and there will be a heavy probability that he is, from a deteriorated or
delinquency producing section of the community. There is a better than even chance that he will have
come from a home broken either by death separation or divorce, and a still better chance that his whole
life will have been insecure and wrought with conflict. He will be retarded 1 to 2 grades in school with dull
normal mentality. Usually he will have been sent to the school for some offenses against property. He will
be lacking personality in basic security and normal affectional bonds, and he will hunger, unknowingly, for
satisfying personal relationships.
Johnny arrives at the school by auto, accompanied in most instances by a member of the Sheriffs Office
from his home county. Perhaps his first great surprise is the scene that greets them. Instead of the high
wire fences he had probably expected, he sees scenes of uncrowded beauty made possible by the
expanse of green lawns, young native forest, and rows of sturdy oaks that line the entrance drive.
He now goes to the Boy's Store and purchases his clothing, consisting of a minimum of three outfits, with at
least one being a dress outfit. All articles carry a price tag and Johnny's signs a check for the total amount.
From the explanation of the clothes budget that has already been given him, he knows he now has $50 in
a theoretical account with which he must cloth himself while in the school., And he has also been made
aware of the fact that this sum will be adequate if he takes reasonable care of his clothing. On the other
hand, he knows that if he is careless with his clothes and overspends his account, it will be necessary for
him to earn this deficit by remaining at the school after he is otherwise ready to return.
During this trip to the Boy's Store, Johnny also received a haircut if he needs it, and takes a hot shower
before changing into new clothes. Incidentally, there is no element of the uniform in the clothes he has
purchased, as a conscious effort is made to have on hand a variety of colors, shirt, trousers, and so forth,
which he can choose. To this end, he also is permitted to retain any clothing. He might have brought with
him from home if he wishes.
The lad now goes to the cottage where he will live during his stay at the school. His cottage father
immediately calls him in to follow up on the conference he has had with his director, and to try to make
Johnny feel at home in his cottage. Since many of the boys in his cottage will be trying to earn a higher
rating in our Individual Rating System, and they realize that leadership is a requirement for these higher
ratings, they will be quite eager to make friends with the newcomer and get him off to the right start in the
school. I might mention here that these boys can do an excellent job orientating of the new boy. And in our
opinion it is too valuable to give up for the sake of having a separate receiving cottage as many schools
The next few days will be a busy one for only inasmuch as he will be called by the school position for a
physical examination, by the dentist for a complete dental examination, and by the psychologist to take a
battery of tests, which at present include an intelligence test, and educational achievement test, a reading
test, a personality test, and a specific interest inventory. A personal interview will be conducted for the
purpose of assembling as complete a case history as possible. This history will be reviewed at a meeting of
the staff and the boy's program decided on. He will then be placed in his proper grade in our academic
department, and assigned to one of the shops or crews for his vocational training. Thereafter, he attends
school one day and studies some trade or line of work on the alternate day.
By this time, Johnny has a very good knowledge of the extracurricular activities available, and can
probably arrange to participate in those that interest him most. Included in these activities are all types of
varsity athletics, music, glee club, scouting, dramatics, and so for. The school Chaplain will call the
youngster in for a chat during which he will secure information about his church membership or preference
and in general, try to arouse an interest in spiritual matters to the point that Johnny will take an active part
in the nondenominational religious program carried on by the Chaplin. Incidentally, it might be of interest to
you to know that our present school Chaplain was formerly a boy in the institution himself. After finishing
his program at the school, he decided he wanted to become a minister, and attended college and
theological school for six years to prepare himself. He successfully served as pastor of a Florida church for
a considerable period of time and then came back to the industrial school, a short time ago as Chaplain,
because he felt, and I agree with him, that his background is specially fitted him to serve in that capacity.
At last, Johnny is fully settled in his training program. From the ratings that are received each week from
his schoolteacher, vocational instructor, and cottage father in connection with our individual rating system,
a constant check is maintained on Johnny's responses to every phase of his program. When weakness
shows up, the instructor detecting the weakness first talks with the lad about himself, after which the
department director discusses the matter with him in a sympathetic manner in an effort to create within on
a desire to overcome the weakness under consideration. Failing in this, the boy will perhaps begin to
receive ratings sufficiently low to cause him to be demoted in rank in the individual rating system, but he
will be given additional privileges for each ranked he advances in the rating system. This granting of, or
withdrawing of, privileges works successfully with most lads and no additional disciplinary action is
If the youngster we have under consideration makes an average record in the schools individual rating
system he will be permitted to return home at about 11 to 12 months. However, it is possible for a boy to
return home, in eight months by making a truly outstanding record. Once the lad returned home, according
to the best statistics that we have been able to compile, the chances are about three to one that you will
have no further conflict with law enforcement agencies.
It is only fair to say, what specific value has Johnny received from his stay at the institution? It has been my
observation that he will have gained something of a new set of values and will leave the school, at least
with resolutions to make good. He will usually have made some progress towards increasing the amount of
his school retardation. In many instances, he will have gained a fair basic knowledge of a trade and from
the interest thus built up. He will often go to thoroughly masterering the trade. He will often have become
proficient enough in athletics, music, scouting and similar activities to help them overcome an inferiority
complex and give him a new and wholesome interest in his home community, and last but not least, he will
of had the experience of living for a period of time among a group of instructors of the highest character
and attractive personality, who have been able to convince him of their genuine interest in his welfare.
From his observation of these people he has had a chance to see for himself that there is no conflict
between living happily, and at the same time living according to the highest moral and ethical standard.
Response from W.S. Chriswell
From the foregoing is evident that the Big Brother can serve at the front door of the industrial school as
well as at the back door. From my judgment seat, I see them come and go. I have seen many who did not
have to go because they had the friendship, influence and guidance of a good Big Brother. I have seen
many of them in a Big Brother has been the sustaining and friendly influence that has enabled him to "beat
back" back and make good.
The thing that has impressed me as I have seen From the foregoing is evident that the big brother can
serve at the front door of the industrial school as well as at the back door. From my judgment seat, I see
them come and go. I have seen many who did not have to go because they had the friendship, influence
and guidance of a good big brother. I have seen many of them in a big brother has been the sustaining
and friendly influence that has enabled him to "beat back" back and make good.
The thing that has impressed me as I have seen Big Brother's work for the last 30 years is the remarkable
results at this relatively small investment of time and friendship and devotion have wrought in the lives of
boys. Believe me when I say that you are doing more and better than you think; that your work stretches
out far beyond your expectations-- and keep on, and help us get others to take hold.
Signed: W.S. Chriswell