From the archive - 12.01.1924

9th December 2011 at 00:00

Reproduction banned by law?

At a meeting of the Eugenics Education Society, an address on "The Teaching of Hygiene and Racial Progress" was given by Mrs Hodson, the secretary. Mrs Halsey, lecturer in psychology at the Chelsea School of Physical Education, was in the chair.

Mrs Hodson said that, since the first inception of high schools for girls, amazing changes had taken place in our national views for suitable education for them. Physical fitness was as much needed by the girl as the boy. The study made for developing exercises had been scientific; it had examined home conditions and also learnt from other countries, and the teacher was now grounded by anatomy and physiology and also in the science of teaching.

The present system of training was, in fact, admirable, but Mrs Hodson wished to lead her audience to the question of racial progress. Despite our gains there was a threat of racial degeneration. In fact, curative medicine now brought back many of the unfit from hospital and asylum to reproduce their kind.

The work of hygiene gave opportunity for turning the tide of degeneration to that of progress. Often, too little time was allowed in curricula for teaching; also instruction in reproduction facts was often taboo. Yet it was possible to interest the young in the question of heredity.

If the teacher was herself interested, opportunities would naturally often become visible, but knowledge of facts was of no use without an implanted sense of responsibility. If girls left the classroom realising that their own health implied that of the next generation, most needed work was done.

If a strong public opinion could be created, much reproduction by the most unfit could be prevented by legislation. But only the prevalence of high ideals could urge individuals to self-sacrifice and the refusal of the joys of parenthood.

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