2 OCTOBER 1942, Page 13


SIR,—Mr. John Gloag must not allow his just admiration for the Boy Scout and Girl Guide movement to blind him to the fact that, so far as numbers are concerned, these and other voluntary organisations have failed. This is not a matter of opinion, for several surveys' have been made, in places as far apart as London, Manchester and Aberdeen, and the evidence is clear that the voluntary organisations attract only a minority of boys and girls between 12 and 17 and hardly anyone over that age.

It is true that the voluntary organisations could make themselves more attractive in many desirable ways. For example, normal young men and women over 17 are interested in each other and need mixed social activities ; apart from sports, most of them are not interested in the one- sex club, which appeals, at this stage, only to those whose emotional development is retarded. Nevertheless, it is highly doubtful whether the existing organisations will ever touch more than the fringe of the problem unless the State backs them up and introduces some form of compulsion.

The frequent statement that compulsion means Hitlerism is surely unwarranted. What is wrong with the Hitlerfugend is not that it is compulsory, but that it teaches German youth pernicious rubbish and trains them to be thugs. Whether a compulsory youth movement in this country would be good or bad would depend entirely on what it did with those who were compelled to join it. After all, education is com- pulsory in Great Britain as well as in Germany, but this does not mean that our schools are turning out little Nazis.—Yours faithfully,

The Dept. of Psychology, The University, Aberdeen.