‘“problem” children of this community’: Christ Church St Laurence and the Children’s Court, Sydney, 1936-41

Patricia Curthoys

Abstract

This article seeks to explore the experiences of those boys who, in late 1930s/ early 1940s Sydney, were considered, by the courts and the churches, amongst others, to be 'the "problem" children of this community'. The sources for this exploration are the records of the Metropolitan Children's Court, Surry Hills and the Christ Church St Laurence Boys' Welfare Bureau. Children's courts were established in New South Wales in 1905. From 1934 onwards all metropolitan cases were heard at Surry Hills. The Boys' Welfare Bureau was established in April 1936 by Christ Church St Laurence, an Anglican church situated near Central Railway Station, Sydney. The records of the Bureau and the Court provide insights into the ways in which both religion and the law attempted to shape the lived experience of these boys, in inner city Sydney, within the context of current ideas about juvenile delinquency and its treatment.

Keywords

children; boys; courts; churches; Christ Church St Laurence; Boys' Welfare Bureau

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