Saturday, November 7, 2009

From The Rotarian: An International Magazine, February 1954

"Everything in the modern home is controlled by switches -- except the children." That is one editor's reminder that Solomon's advice on use of the rod is largely ignored these days and that children do about as they please. One thing they do is to read comic books. Children were the principal market in the U.S.A. last year for some 70 million.

That fact isn't especially deplored by Miss Margaret Scoggia, specialist in teen-age interests at the New York Public Library. "I feel that if a child enjoys comic books," she told a newspaper interviewer, "his interest is in something which is also found in books. Frequently the interest can be led into books." Her views find support from Drs. Lauretta Bender and Reginald S. Lourie in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, in which they say, "The comics may be said to offer the same tiype of mental catharsis to its readers that Aristotle claimed was an attribute of the human drama..."

Other experts aren't sure it works out that way. Dr. Frederic Wertham, psychiatrist at Queens General Hospital, told a New York legislative committee that crime comics not only interfere with formation of good reading habits, but tend to develop attitudes of brutality and callousness.

Obviously, here is a problem. Will it correct itself? If not, what should be done? Voluntary self-discipline by publishers-- perhaps with a seal of approval from a trade association for comics meeting certain standards-- has been suggested. Ethical publishers say it would only guarantee the market for competitors who don't play by the rules.

Does the problem simmer down to parental control? That's the question we have put to several representative women, wives of Rotarians. You see their answer here. -- The Editors.

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