When we began study of this case we were put in possession of the following notes made by an unusually competent social worker, extending over the previous nine months. Attention was first drawn to her when she was living with someone who had offered to give her a home while her mother was mortally ill in a hospital. She then had clothing and trinkets the possession of which she could not satisfactorily explain. It was discovered that she was lying. It was about this time that the girl told her friends that she had been immoral, and accused a man for whom she had worked of being responsible for her downfall. She had also been flirting with a married man who had been talking to her about eloping with him. It was learned that she stayed all one night at a downtown hotel, but probably alone. Further investigation showed she had stolen a considerable sum of money from an acquaintance and also a watch. Then a physical examination was made and a certificate given that the girl had not been immoral.
Much trouble was taken about the case in the ensuing year, the notes naively say, ``object being to see if the girl could not be reclaimed.'' She was given an unusually good opportunity with a sterling family. She made much trouble for them and others who were interested in her. Her mother died early in the period. On a number of occasions she left her place and stayed away all night, sometimes walking the streets. On one occasion she is reported to have gone to a certain agency, looking as if she had been recently intoxicated, and appealed to be sent to a reform school. She was taken in by the police on one occasion. We first saw her after she had been living in this good home for several months.
At the same time we studied her physical and mental conditions we attempted to make some analysis of her self-orientation. She maintained then that her main trouble was because she had got mixed up with this married man. She declared he threatened her. (This was very likely from what was discovered about his character.) She had very good words for the officials who had helped her so much. She told us how she had stolen a matter of $100 or so. When we questioned her about her early accusations she said that she did tell a lot of lies when her case first was looked into. ``I thought they were too inquisitive. I thought if I told them a few lies they would leave me alone. Everybody has to know everything. I forget half of what I'm to say. I don't know why I stole that watch. I would have brought it back home if he had not taken it on me. I never told anybody that I wanted to go to the reform school. I was afraid to go home because I was afraid I would get a good scolding. I think I have told all the truth to the officers since the first. I was ashamed to tell it, that's the whole truth. That's the truth, there was no one with me this other night. I did not meet a soul I knew. I went out to the South Park. I had never been there before. Where I have been living they would not let me go out anywhere. I had to stay there Sundays and all the time. When I got out I was worse than a wild calf. Maybe if I went out oftener I would not be so bad. I am here now because I went to the police station and told them I would not go home. It was late and I was afraid to go home. I had stayed out on the street all night. One night I went home and it was all dark and I was afraid to ring and I stayed on the street all night. I was on the street all the next day too. I went to the cemetery. Late that afternoon I met a young man and stayed talking to him and a detective came along and told us we shouldn't stand there. I never did anything bad with any man. I never said so. A visiting nurse told me the dangers of life. My mother told me I should be careful. Oh, I worked for that lawyer before my mother died. I worked for him about two weeks and he did not pay me what he owed me. No, he never did me any harm. A man came along with a lady from that office and he asked me some questions and I was so scared because I thought they were going to lock me up. I guess that was the question maybe and I said, yes, but I did not know just what it was.''
It was after this that the girl gave much trouble because of queer little trickery concerning some insurance papers, and about losing some money. Her friends wasted much time in the endeavor to get these matters adjusted. The family she was with thought she was very childish for her age.
Our opinion as dictated at this time was that the girl was physically and mentally all right, but that she showed a decidedly childish reaction towards the world and was very suggestible and unreliable. We knew many more facts about her which proved these points. Our judgment set down was that she was an unstable adolescent with possibility of showing very different characteristics inside of a year or two. We noted she had a weak type of face.
She was seen four months later, after a period of having run away twice for several days at a time. On inquiry she maintains she was impelled to do it by her own feelings of restlessness and general dissatisfaction. She thought the people with whom she lived were very nice and only strict as they should be. There was some question raised about this time about the periodicity of her impulsions, but except for her own statement that it was just before her menstrual time, nothing definite was proved. On the last occasion she did pick up with a young man and was immoral with him. She stayed out in a hallway all night. A venereal disease was then acquired. This was speedily treated in a hospital and the girl was found another place. Three years have elapsed, and during the time this girl has continued under the observation of one of her old friends. She has remained steady and trustworthy, and shows no tendency whatever towards untruthfulness or evasiveness. She has lived in one good home for two years and the people are deeply attached to her.
-------------------------------------------------------------- Adolescent impulses: Lack of self-control. Case 19. Sex temptations. resisted. Girl, age 18. Lack of parental care. Deficient interests: Both mental and recreational. Delinquencies: Mentality: False accusations. Good ability. Stealing. General lying. Staying away from home. ---------------------------------------------------------------
Summary: A girl of almost 16 years, of attractive and innocent appearance, alleged that she had been leading an immoral life and frequenting houses of assignation. She told the story to the people of her church, who were naturally horrified and demanded a thorough investigation of the social vice problems involved. This was undertaken by the police authorities, but they failed to get any satisfactory evidence from the girl. It was later found that the story was all a myth and the girl had not been in the least immoral. Her first statements followed directly after her attendance at an emotional revival meeting where these topics had been preached about. Afterward this girl was in court many times for various reasons. She is a mild psychoneurotic type, exhibiting under stress unusual mental phenomena. She and her family have created an astonishing amount of trouble in law courts as both defendants and complainants, because their peculiar unreliabilities have not been understood.